“Historically, Hockey Canada didn’t believe in us.” – Tara Chisholm

text from Sebastian Boucher

This is not the case with the team called Women’s Para Hockey Canada, a team that has been around since 2007 and represents the country on the international stage.

Hockey Canada has always refused to take this team under its control for various reasons.

Tara Chisholm, the team’s head coach, said, “Not only was Hockey Canada supporting us, it was holding us back. Historically, our league has never believed in us.”

Things can change, however Trust needs to be rebuiltShe, according to Chisholm, burned her past experiences with the Union.

Frustration has also taken hold in recent months. The head coach decided that her team would no longer wear a Team Canada jersey in competition.

There is a lot of frustration with this decision. We gave our time for years, and to see Hockey Canada take all the credit for the development of our sport on the international stage, I couldn’t take it any longer! »

Quote from Tara Chisholm, Team Coach

Frustration accumulated over the years forced relationshipto use Chisholm’s words, in an interview with Radio Canada.

Canadian Women’s Para Hockey League needs Hockey Canada and their signature. The organization is in fact the only entity authorized to sign the documents that allow the group to participate in any international competition.

We would send them complete documents, Chisholm says, and all they had to do was sign them and email them to us. It takes five minutes, but sometimes we just didn’t get it. And when we did get it, it was often after much insistence!

Lack of funding does not soften relations. Women’s Para Hockey Canada is run by a group of dedicated volunteers and, until this year, each player had to pay $1,500 to participate in training.

Since the team is not recognized by its federation, the players are not entitled to an Athlete’s Certificate nor do they receive any financial benefits from the government. They have to pay for everything out of their own pockets.

“I have daughters from all over Canada,” Chisholm says. I’m trying to move camps to balance costs, but I can only run two official camps in a year. The rest is optional.

Faced with Hockey Canada’s inaction, Chisholm and the management team found a sponsor to develop their logo and jersey and cover some of the team’s expenses.

Diversity: Reality or Utopia?

The women’s side of para hockey is not officially recognized by the International Federation. Para hockey is governed by the World Ice Hockey League (WPIH), which, like other Paralympic sports, defines its sport as co-ed.

It has been present in the Paralympic Games since 1994, and only three women, including Chinese, have participated in it. Jing Yu played six minutes on International Women’s Day at the Beijing Olympics last year.

word mixed does not reflect reality.

It’s like Marie-Philip Poulin saying, “If you want to go to the Olympics, you have to be part of the men’s team.” I don’t understand why we do this to parachutes. »

Quote from Tara Chisholm

We can say that women can play in the NHL, adds Gina Kingsbury, who was recently appointed Vice President of Hockey Operations at Hockey Canada. Nothing prevents them from playing, but the reality is very different. Physically, the vast majority of women cannot compete with men at this level.

On the part of WPIH, director Michelle Laflame admits, in an exchange of emails, that it is necessary to do otherwise. To attract more female athletes, coaches and officials to the ice.

That’s why we launched the first recognized all-women competition, the Global Women’s Challenge. It happened this past August in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Four teams participated: the United States, Great Britain, Team World (consisting of players from seven countries), and Canada, represented in the Canada women’s hockey competition.

According to Hockey Canada’s policy, this is not enough.

However, across the border, USA Hockey acquired the women’s hockey program in 2018.

The explanation we gave at Hockey Canada is that there are not enough teams to host a World Series so our team is not eligible for government fundingexplains Tara Chisholm.

Some of our policies and approaches must change, as Gina Kingsbury knows. We need to be leaders, along with the United States, in the development of women’s para hockey.

A meeting also took place on April 12 in Toronto between several representatives of the women’s team and Hockey Canada. Although she says she’s on her toes, Tara Chisholm admits that this meeting was encouraging.

I am more optimistic than I was before this meeting. Gina and Maren Hicox (Hckey Canada Women’s Division President) showed transparency and a genuine desire to help usshe admits.

We want to do things right. We have a collaborative team approach. We want to know their needs and interest in joining Hockey Canada. We don’t want access and take over the program without listening to themHe met, says Kingsbury, during the Défi sportif AlterGo.

We want to make sure that actions follow words. We want to make sure that they believe in our women and that we are not just a box they can tick off to meet government requirements. »

Quote from Tara Chisholm

I am optimistic about the future of our sport, but I remain cautiousadds the coach.

From women’s parachute hockey to the 2030 Games?

Right now, any Paralympian’s dream is to be through the men’s team (or mixed depending on the official name). This is the case, among others, of Raphalle Tousignant.

The situation can change. Discussions have begun to include a women’s element of para hockey for the 2030 Games. However, certain conditions must be met.

Two world championships involving eight teams should be organized by then, Gina Kingsbury specifies. 2025 and 2027 will be the targets.

Games in 2030 are possible, but the decision must be made quickly, Chisholm stresses. If Hockey Canada, USA Hockey and the International Federation work together, it can accelerate the development of our sport.

Tara Chisholm and some of her players admit it without hesitation: even if Hockey Canada does not have a good reputation in the country, in recent months the Federation remains very influential on the international scene, and has the ability to make things happen. quickly.

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