India’s Women Ice Hockey Crowd Funded Over 3 Million Rupees On Ketto
Glaciers of grit and fire in their hearts, their bid to raise funds and keep the game alive ended successfully. This is the story of India’s women ice hockey team.
Photo Credit : https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/icehockeypossible,
The Ice Hockey Association of India started an online campaign to source funds for India’s women's ice hockey team.
Did anybody even know that India had an all-woman ice hockey team? Did anybody even know ice hockey is played in India as a national sport?
But in a corner of the Himalayan mountain range, there are a group of girls devoted to the 'other' hockey – the kind played on ice.
Skating on a frozen pond in Gupuks, Leh, in the middle of the Himalayas, and the mountain range glowing behind, you will find an all women team who found their passion in this unconventional sport. These women have proved their love for this sport is too much to give it up. For them, ice hockey is what gully cricket is to the rest of the country.
Earlier they used to play for the love of the game with no rewards to show but now there is something more.
Last year, the team went on to participate for the first time in an international competition in Chinese Taipei. Even though they returned from the 2016 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia without a win, there were many positives. This relatively young Indian team came close to beating Malaysia in the group stages, and Noor Jahan was even awarded the tournament’s Best Goaltender award after saving 193 shots from a possible 229.
These achievements have not been easy to score. Without funds, a proper rink, or training equipment, they have battled many hardships.
Last year, the girls prepared an ice rink on their own. They would fill buckets from a frozen pool from 8 in the night till 3 in the morning in groups of four. Even a small amount of water that splashed on their clothes would freeze. While even thinking of being out at this time in the Himalayas would normally give us the chills, these girls were determined not to let any obstacles thaw their grit and ambitions.
Another problem has been the lack of funding, which has affected their growth. To receive funding from the government, the sport needs 75 percent affiliate member states, which is difficult at the moment. There is an artificial rink in Dehradun, but with no caretaker or money to maintain it, it lies neglected.
Amidst all these challenges, all these girls had is the determination to succeed. An example being Stanzin Chotso, the youngest player on the team. Last year when the team went to Chinese Taipei, she was supposed to appear for her board exams. But the 17 year old decided to skip her class 10 exams and join the team in what was their first international competition.
In a country which weighs its educational aspirations before other things, Chotso's decision to forego her board exams only shows the importance that this sport holds in her heart and the belief that she has in it. Semzes Dolma will appear for her 12 standard board exams next year, but that has not lessened her passion towards the game either.
With their future at stake, the Ice Hockey Association of India has been trying to build an ice hockey culture the next generation will embrace. It’s not about young women alone, but what they stand for. Their success will be a token of winter sports and other unconventional sports of India and of stereotypes broken to create more sporting opportunity for women of India.
Apart from ice hockey, the team's best players Rinchen Dolma, Kunzes Angmo, Disket Angmo also excel in speed skating at national and international levels.
The fundraising campaign launched by the Ice Hockey Association of India ended on 24th February, 2017. It had raised over 3 million rupees from over 3000 supporters including Ketto cofounder and Bollywood star, Kunal Kapoor.
Today, these women from the Himalayas represent every sports person who couldn't make it big, every dream that couldn't be fulfilled, every aspiration that didn't get wings, and every passion that couldn't be funded.
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