Talk about adversity … imagine starting a hockey game with a 21-goal deficit.
The was the issue facing Team White on Sunday afternoon as it took on Team Blue in the final leg of the around-the-world Global Girls’ Game, which finished
up in Verdun, Que., after a 28-country journey.
White couldn’t make a dent in the deficit, falling 4-2 to give Blue a 106-83 worldwide victory, but there were few, if any, who cared about the final score
when the last buzzer sounded.
From the first drop of the puck – 42 hours earlier in Dunedin, New Zealand – to the final game in Verdun, the Global Girls’ Game, a centrepiece of World
Girls’ Hockey Weekend – wasn’t about who won or who lost, it was about a chance to promote the women’s game around the world.
And around the world is exactly where the game went. Sure, the usual suspects like Sweden, Finland, and the United States each hosted a leg, but it also
visited the United Arab Emirates, Lithuania, South Africa, Malaysia, and Turkey – not exactly hockey hotbeds.
“I’ve been showing people the list of the countries that are taking part and people have been astounded to see some of the names on there,” says Joanne
Hughes, chair of Female Council with Hockey Canada. “It goes to show that the success we’re having with our women’s programs attracts a lot of people.”
Will those countries soon be competing with Canada and the U.S. for Olympic supremacy? Will they be knocking on the door of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s
World Championship? No, but that’s not the point.
“These celebrations bring recognition and awareness to the game,” says Hughes. “And the more recognition the women get, the more attractive the game seems,
and the more girls want to get into it. If it looks enjoyable, then people want to be there, [and] want to take part.”
The Global Girls’ Game was a joint effort by the International Ice Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada, which modeled the game after its successful Long
Game, a continuous cross-country game that has been part of its World Girls’ Hockey Weekend celebrations for the last three years.
There were no set age groups for the game – in Reykjavik, Iceland, players ranged from six years old to 57, and in Madrid it was a pair of Spanish women’s
league teams that took part.
In Verdun, it was Peewee AA teams from Richelieu and Lac St-Louis meeting to take their place in history.
“It’s a huge weekend for women’s hockey in general, and the Global Girls’ Game is like the icing on the cake,” says Yvan Dallaire, director of governance
and female hockey for Hockey Quebec. “Considering all the countries it’s been played in already, Hockey Quebec takes pride in being able to round out the
game in our province.”
So while most Canadians were enjoying Thanksgiving celebrations, it was female hockey that was celebrated across the globe. And by the looks of the first
Global Girls’ Game, the future of female hockey is in great hands.