Women’s hockey is one of the fastest-growing sports around the world, and Surrey played host to a demonstration of that growth when the Indian women’s national hockey team arrived for a friendly against the Surrey Falcons. It was India’s first match ever held in Canada, but was, more importantly, a sign that the sport is still on the rise.
India is not a country known for its hockey, to say the least, as the climate and preferences of the nation haven’t lent themselves to much in the way of on-ice competition. But that is changing due to initiatives like those from Canadian hockey great Hayley Wickenheiser, whose Wickfest was the primary reason that the Indian team made the trip to Canada.
The Indian team eventually took part in Wickfest, but stopped on the way to play a tuneup game against the bantam squad from Surrey. Given the amount of travel that India’s squad had to do to get to Canada, they will surely remember Surrey for being the first location where they were able to take to the ice and play in one of the top hockey nations in the world.
Women’s sports continue to grow, which is a great reflection on the sporting community as a whole, especially with events like Wickfest around to help foster the development of players to make the sport better from top to bottom. In addition to the games played at the event, clinics and seminars were also available to help players learn beyond the lessons they picked up from the competition itself. For a team like India to be able to take those lessons home is what will ultimately make the sport better around the world.
And there is nothing that can quite replicate the thrill of traveling the world to take part in an international sporting event, which teams like India will need to get accustomed to as they look to qualify for international competitions like the Olympics down the road. The more that these types of trips happen, the more common they become, and the more the focus can be on the play on the ice instead of the fact that the trips are happening at all.
When it comes to international competition in women’s hockey, teams like Canada and the United States appear destined to be the favourites for years to come. But events like this could spark smaller countries to rise to the challenge of those countries. For example, the 2022 Winter Olympics will see online sports betting sites set odds in the favor of the superpowers of the game.
But as the sport continues to grow like this, those odds will eventually become less lopsided, as countries that didn’t take hockey seriously in the past can use their vast populations and resources to make themselves contenders on the world stage. The 2026 Winter Olympics and other future competitions could see the gap narrow in women’s hockey odds if the trend was to continue.
Right now, India’s women’s hockey program is far from a world power. But stepping stones like their trip to Surrey en route to Wickfest are a start that can potentially be looked back at one day as the start of something great, or at the very least a positive moment in the progression of women’s hockey as a whole.