It was a day filled with confidence building at the ATB Centre on Saturday as Hockey Alberta hosted its first Female Hockey Day in Lethbridge.
One organizer said the event is intended to celebrate female hockey players and encourage young players.
“As a young female, you know sometimes you’re not as confident in sports or activities, and I think it’s pretty important to just get involved,” said Taryn Baumgardt, a representative from Hockey Alberta.
Some of the players have been on co-ed teams before, but said all-female teams can better build their self esteem.
Makama said she loves the friendships hockey has allowed her to make, and that the sport also teaches her about good sportsmanship.
She said her 7-year-old sister, Hailey Makama — who also plays with the Lethbridge Cyclones — and her both want to make it to the Olympics one day, especially after being able to look up to older female hockey players.
The Lethbridge Pronghorns were also present at the event as mentors, helping out as group leaders during information sessions.
“There’s always the argument female hockey isn’t competitive enough, or that they’re not going to develop and that’s an old way of thinking: that way’s in the past,” said Chris Fantazir, the coach of the Lethbridge Cyclones, when asked about barriers female hockey players may face.
“These girls are fantastic, they’re fierce, they’re competitive, just as competitive as the boys,” he emphasized.
Fantazir said all-female hockey teams have grown quite bit in southern Alberta over the past couple of years as these teams receive more exposure. He adds that it’s nice to have Hockey Alberta recognize that growth and help develop it as well.
Fantazir said there were only three all-female hockey teams in Lethbridge minor hockey a couple of years ago and now that number has grown to nine. He says he hopes to see even more growth within the coming years.
Hockey Alberta representatives said that even just deciding to get involved with the sport can be a big first step for some female players, however she adds that events like these certainly do help promote the sport.
“We have a lot of great female role models here today with being their group leaders,” Baumgardt said.
Baumgardt said the day consisted of on and off ice development sessions for the players, their coaches and even the parents. She also said more events like this are expected to take place in the near future as they continue to grow all-female hockey across Alberta.
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