The 2018 IIHF Women’s World Championship Division II Group B was a significant tournament for Spain. Besides being hosted in Spain in Valdemoro, Madrid, the Spanish squad won the tournament, gaining promotion to Division II Group A.
On top of all that, the officiating team included two of Spain’s three female ice hockey officials (the only two female Spanish officials listed on the IIHF website as being IIHF licensed), Alba Louise Calero Scanlan and Claudia De La Pompa Carrera.
Both are lineswomen, and both have made their IIHF debuts in the last year and a half, Calero Scanlan at the 2017 U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group B Qualification tournament and De La Pompa Carrera at the 2018 Women’s World Championship Division II Group B tournament.
Leading the way for female officials in their country, Calero Scanlan and De La Pompa Carrera recognize that with ice hockey being a niche sport in Spain, there are numerous challenges in regards to encouraging more women to become officials.
“The problem is there aren’t many rinks in Spain, the league doesn’t have many teams, it’s hard to find players to get to play the sport, so it’s even harder to get new officials,” Calero Scanlan and De La Pompa Carrera explained via email.
However, these two young officials’ backgrounds are examples of some of the ways in which other women in Spain could end up officiating. Calero Scanlan got started in inline hockey, where in Spain there has been more success in terms of gaining female officials when compared to ice hockey. She ended up doing her training in Germany, and then continued to pursue officiating ice hockey in Spain.
“I already enjoyed officiating inline hockey, so I wanted to develop my skills, and ice hockey has more to offer in relation to that,” Calero Scanlan said. “There are more aspects that need to be controlled and the game is way faster.”
De La Pompa Carrera on the other hand used to play ice hockey. Efforts are often put on encouraging current players and former players in Spain to take up officiating as De La Pompa Carrera, who started officiating while in Karlskrona, Sweden, has done.
“I always wanted to be a ref, but loved at the same time playing,” she explained. “When I stopped playing for the national team and had some more time I decided that it could be a great idea becoming a ref. It permits me to be near the sport I am in love with.”
Spain’s officials meet for training at the start of each season, but as Calero Scanlan and De La Pompa Carrera have realized, one of the best ways to learn and develop their skills is to officiate at events, such as at the Women’s Division II Group B tournament they were at this past season. Officiating at an event within their own country had its perks too, with the officials receiving visible support from Real Federacion Espanola.
“In terms of learning, one week at a IIHF tournament is like one year of reffing in Spain,” said De La Pompa Carrera. “So this is a fantastic and awesome experience where [we can] grow.”
With Calero Scanlan and De La Pompa Carrera being just a few years into their officiating careers, they recognize that they still have a lot to learn. They both dream of continuing to pave the way for female officials in their country by officiating higher level games, such as at a Universiade or the Olympics.
“I know that’s hard work, and being from a country where most of the population isn’t even aware of the existence of this sport in their own country, makes it hard,” said Calero Scanlan. “But we will work to develop our skills and do our best to get opportunities.”
Photos courtesy of Alba Louise Calero Scanlan and Claudia De La Pompa Carrera.