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04 Feb 2018

Meet India's Women's Ice Hockey team

Olympic champion to coach Women's Ice Hockey team

Ice Hockey is a sport that is yet to gain popularity in India but a group of girls from Ladakh might change that soon.

The girls are steadily gaining international fame and breaking barriers on ice.

This group of 25 odd girls, as young as 15 to 30 years of age, comprise of the women's Ice Hockey team of India.

Here's more about it.

In context

Olympic champion to coach Women's Ice Hockey team
2 Canadian greats to train young girls

Quality mentors

2 Canadian greats to train young girls

These girls will now be trained by four-time Olympic Gold medallist, Hayley Wickenheiser from Canada and Ice Hockey veteran, Andrew Ference.

These girls are venturing into uncharted territories and playing a little-known sport is not easy especially with the lack of infrastructure.

With less focus on the sport by the government, these girls have to fend for themselves.

Breaking barriers

Despite hardships they girls don't give up

"We designated weekly shifts for this. First, we had to drive down at 8pm, dig some of the ice to get water from the lake. Through buckets, mugs and pipes we would spread the water across. Then we could come back at 3am to repeat the process. By 7am the x would be ready for us to play," Diskit Angmo was quoted by HT

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In icy temperatures, their fire for the sport burns bright

Paucity of funds

In icy temperatures, their fire for the sport burns bright

Not just building the field to play Ice Hockey, some of these girls cannot even afford the gear to play the sport.

Most of their skates and sticks have worn out and some girls even play with borrowed equipment.

But one thing is for certain, despite all the troubles their desire and enthusiasm for the sport keep them going.

Ice Hockey is their life's passion

"I am playing with borrowed equipment. The kit is very expensive and I'm from a lower-middle class family. The only pair of skates I own I bought in 2011 for Rs.8,000," 20-year-old, Shabina Kausar was quoted by the Hindustan Times.

Hardwork paysoff

India now compete at international level

The hard work has paid off and their big break came in 2016 , when the Ice Hockey Association of India decided to send the team for the Challenge Cup of Asia.

Several members of the team had no passports and funds to afford the trip.

But the Ministry of Affairs and a crowd-funding campaign ensured they competed at the event.

India at the international arena

The Indian women's team, however, lost all the matches, but their goalkeeper Noorjahan walked away with the best player award. Loosing was not disheartening as they learnt from their mistakes and competed in the same tournament last year. This time around, India won two matches.

These girls still have a long way to go

One step at a time

These girls still have a long way to go

Coach Wickenheiser, believes the Indian team is at the beginner level right now and are at the bottom of the pool.

But with hard work and training, they can get better and beat teams in their division.

"I'm focusing on building their skills and skating right now. Their individual skills are still weak, so you can't work on team strategies right now," she concluded.

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