The Surrey White Rock Ringette Association says it hopes the world championships, which will be coming to the Lower Mainland next year, will help to boost recognition of the sport.
Ringette Canada announced on Oct. 18 that Burnaby has been selected to the host for the 2019 Ringette World Championships in November. It will be co-hosted by the Lower Mainland Ringette League and Ringette BC.
A news release from Ringette Canada says the championships will see the top ringette athletes in the world compete for junior and senior gold.
Participating teams are still being finalized, says the release from Ringette Canada, but it is expected that six International Ringette Federation member countries will compete – Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA. Following the last event in Mississauga, Canada holds the junior world title and Finland holds the senior world title.
Niki Lacey, who does promotions for the SWRRA, said the entire ringette community, not only Surrey-White Rock, is excited about the championship coming to Burnaby.
Despite the ringette being played since 1963, Lacey said there isn’t much recognition of the sport.
“It’s definitely something that I feel is a bit hidden because if you’re not already in the arenas, you don’t see it,” she said.
Lacey, 37, has been playing ringette since she was four years old after her parents put her into the sport back in Alberta.
“That was the end — I was hooked forever.”
But aspects of the sport have changed a bit from when Lacey started.
“Things that were unique about when I returned is when I grew up, I did not have the 30-second shot clock and there were some different ways of playing. We also didn’t have what they call ‘move it, or lose it’ which is a rule on the ice just around when the rink kind of gets tied up along the boards.”
And it wasn’t as common for boys to play when she started.
“It was a change.”
The game, Lacey said, was originally created for women and girls to play
During an 18+ game the Now-Leader attended between SWRRA and Prince George, Lacey said there were actually five men playing on the ice — three for Prince George and two for SWRRA.
“It’s something that we’re seeing more and more of, for sure,” said Lacey. She said boys feel “much more” accepted in younger divisions, but sometimes in older divisions, some people “are not extremely happy about it.”
According to the Burnaby New Westminster Ringette Association, “there are limits at higher levels for boys as not all provinces support co-ed play.”
“However, as long as males are playing the sport as it’s meant to be played, and they’re not being overly aggressive or overly physical, it’s welcomed,” Lacey said. “I see no difference out there when somebody is playing the sport as it’s meant to be played, it’s kind of that extra little challenge.”
The sport, according to Ringette Canada, “promotes a no-contact policy when it comes to the physical aspect of its game.”
Asked how she would describe ringette to someone who isn’t familiar with the sport, Lacey said like hockey, it’s played on the ice with five skaters and goalie on each team.
“We oftentimes get compared to hockey, however, aside from being played on the ice and trying to get goals in the net, that’s probably where the similarities end.”
Lacey also said it’s one of the fastest sports on ice and “because there is so much agility, there’s so much speed, you have to have your tricks and your skills in order to get around your opponent.”
She said as a way to encourage people to learn more about ringette, associations offer a “Come Try Ringette” program as well as going into schools to play gym ringette. With the “Come Try Ringette” program, Lacey said, people don’t have to know how to skate, and equipment will be provided.
To find a “Come Try Ringette” event, visit cometryringette.ca.
Earlier this month, Ringette Canada announced the sport saw an “all-time high” with 31,168 registration
Lacey said as the popularity of female hockey rose, ringette “did see a decrease at that time.”
“But since then, we’ve seen an increase once again.”
For more info on SWRRA, visit surreywhiterockringette.com.