BEAVERLODGE – The inaugural Peace Country Jamboree was a huge success in providing a unique opportunity for young female hockey players in northern Alberta.
The Jamboree was co-hosted by the Peace Country Female Hockey Club, and Beaverlodge and Sexsmith Minor Hockey Associations, October 29-30. The event was open to registered U7-U13 female hockey players, who spent the weekend honing their skills on the ice and showcasing their skills among their female peers.
The Jamboree featured players learning from female coaches like Tanya Chomyc, who led various drills and exercises to help the young players develop their skills.
Christy Martin, the Jamboree’s organizer, believes these types of events are very important for young female players, especially those in the north where the opportunity to play on an all-female team can be limited due to numbers.
“I’ve noticed, seeing my sons play and then my daughter who was in her first year of U13, we could see their drive was a little bit different. Once we moved her into girl’s hockey, her drive has immensely increased. She’s not just the girl sitting on the blue line,” said Martin. “So, I think the girls really realized that when they had a scrimmage for their last session [at the Jamboree]. They all got to participate. So, I think it really opened their eyes, especially the younger girls, just to see that there’s a team out there for them.”
In accordance with COVID-19 restrictions, attendance was capped at 60 (30 for U7/U9 players, and 30 for U11/ U13 players), with the focus on on-ice activities. Parents and family members also had the opportunity to watch the players as they learned and interacted.
Martin hopes that the Jamboree inspires other small hockey associations to establish all female hockey programs to help encourage young women to play.
And there are plans to expand the Jamboree in the future. Martin said the Jamboree hopes to increase the number of players who can participate, especially at the U7 and U9 levels, and to include off-ice activities, such as seminars led by women who played hockey beyond the minor level to inspire younger players who might feel like they do not have a place in hockey. Other plans include a luncheon for the players, and other interactive activities to allow the players time to get to know each other.
For more information on Female Hockey programs existing all-female Minor Hockey leagues and grassroots Female Hockey programs can be found on the Hockey Alberta website.
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