The off season is midway through and as always there are a lot of fun stuff going on this time of year even if it’s nowhere close to the action happening the rest of the year. However there are dark things lurking in the shadows holding back progress and this time it has struck close to my heart.
If you have read some of the blogs I’ve written before you may already know I have a great love for the Croatian national team, not so much for their fine hockey skills but rather them being an amazing group of people who loves to be out on the ice and does what they can with the very limited resources they get. Worth remembering that Croatia is by numbers the smallest nation competing internationally in women’s hockey with less than 60 registered players total and they are constantly struggling even to get ice times for practice.
So you could say they are far from top priority with the Croatian ice hockey federation and the sad news are that they have now even taken away the one highlight these girls has to look forward each year, namely travelling to the World Championships to represent and compete for their country. I can tell you all of these girls consider it a great honor pulling on the Croatian jersey and also a fantastic experience to face players from all corners of the world, growing the game and playing for medals. I’ve heard some lame excuses the federation has offered as explanation for pulling them out of the Worlds ladder, but honestly I just think they don’t care enough to try which is really sad.
I understand some countries don’t have the motivation to make a proper go of their women’s hockey section, but at least give them this, let them pull on that jersey saying “Hrvatska” with big block letters on the front and be proud as they raise the flag. It’s at least a sign of hope!
On a happier note in the world of women’s hockey, just the other day the third annual “Panamerico” tournament came to it’s end with hosting Mexico claiming victory over Argentina. This is an initiative started by Mexico to make something happen with ice hockey in South America and with two teams from both Mexico and Argentina along with the Colombian national team things are happening. Unfortunately Brasil were missing this time however there is promise here for future World Championship appearances by even more South American teams than Mexico.
Having seen the progress of the Mexican program over the last couple of years they show promise of reaching promotion from their current spot in Division 2B and even if they trail a bit behind I think both Argentina and Colombia would stand a chance against Hong Kong, South Africa and the other current fringe teams trying for a spot on the World Championship ladder.
So I want to give a big hand for South America giving this a go, everything that makes the women’s hockey world grow larger is a fabulous thing!
There are now mostly vacations and silly season moves left before the games start again in August and I urge those of you still suffering from the hockey bug to check out the roller hockey world championship right now taking place in Asiago, Italy and of course as the CWHL and NWHL entry drafts are getting under way soon. Also right now lots of awesome names are coming to lift the Swedish league even higher and I would be over the moon excited to see a match-up between the NWHL and the top Swedish teams just to see how big the difference really is. Considering the interesting mix of players and nations we can present in the league today I do believe they would be more even than people might think.
Now let’s do summer and keep on running, building, playing and shooting for one amazing new season! I’ll be back with a summary of the Swedish silly season before it all begins again, but just for a little teaser of the players coming in we’ve got the world’s fastest skater, a NCAA captain and perhaps, just perhaps on of the world’s foremost defenders!
Enjoy the sunshine while it’s still here…