The 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey Women’s World Division II Group B Championship will be held at The Ice Station at GrandWest from Monday to Sunday February 20 to 26.
Teams participating are Australia, New Zealand, Türkiye, Belgium, Croatia and hosts South Africa.
Team South Africa’s official blazer ceremony took place yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, Tuesday February 14, at GrandWest. There will be no love lost when New Zealand take on neighbours Australia in the next Monday’s opening fixture at 1pm, followed by Türkiye versus Belgium at 4.30pm and South Africa against Croatia at 8pm.
“I love the way ice hockey is a whole other world to me,” says national squad member, Chandré D’Oliveira,19, from Durbanville Hills, who is about to embark on her third tour of international duty following two previous world championships, first in Bulgaria 2019 and in Croatia 2022.
“There is something about the smell of the rink, the mist over the ice on an early morning, the feeling of my blades carving the ice,” said D’Oliveira, a first-year film student and one of three squad members to emerge from the early morning fog hovering over the rink at GrandWest following a knockabout on the ice.
Team mate Zoë Herringer, 17, from Goodwood, a former field hockey and figure skater, agrees, saying: “Once you get the attachment to the ice it’s like you can’t get enough of it.”
Besides having excellent skating ability, balance and good hand-eye coordination, the plucky teenager said she’s also had to work on mastering her stick-handling and hard passing skills.
“I am currently working on my shooting and accuracy when it comes to taking shots at goal,” she said, following a recent training session with her fellow Cape-based teammates.
First-time national squad member, Michelle Visser, 17, also from Goodwood, fell in love with the sport after tagging along to a public ice hockey session with her sister. Hard work and determination paid off as she’s done enough to warrant a national call-up.
“I think the challenge and speed is what drew me to the sport and then as I played more I just started to enjoy it more and more,” she said.
“I initially struggled because I started skating only when I started playing hockey. So there were a lot of new skills I had to learn,” she said.
South African Ice Hockey Federation (SAIHF) president, Jaso Cerff, extended a warm welcome to all participating teams, saying: “SAIHF wishes all countries participating in this tournament the very best. May we all enjoy the tournament and may the best team win.”
Cerff also expressed his thanks to all sponsors, including the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government, the Local Organising Committee(LOC) and all volunteers. “We would like to wish all players, volunteers and officials a pleasant tournament and look forward to sharing in the celebration of ice hockey in South Africa over the week of the tournament,” he said.
“We would also like to invite our visitors to explore and enjoy our beautiful country and in particular, Cape Town.”
The SA national ice hockey women’s team has competed in International Ice Hockey Federation events since the 1999 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Finland. They won promotion to Division II in 2020. The following year in 2021, the World Championships was cancelled due the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic
With things back on track, SA’s traditional rivals, Australia, come in as favourites after placing second in last year’s Division II B competition in Croatia. Türkiye finished third and South Africa in fourth place. Team SA will have their work cut out if they hope to gain promotion as the winner of this competition moves up a notch.
“The time since our last international competition has absolutely flown by. It feels like yesterday we were competing in Croatia,” said SA head coach Jean-Michel van Doesburgh. “Our team has changed quite a lot since then and we’re excited to see what the new roster can do when we hit the ice! It’s always a pleasure to play at home and I know the team will be working hard to win every battle and produce some great results,” he said.
Day One: Monday February 20
1pm: New Zealand v Australia
4.30pm: Türkiye v Belgium
8pm Croatia v South Africa
Day Two: Tuesday February 20
1pm Türkiye v New Zealand
4.30pm Belgium v Croatia
8pm Australia v South Africa
Day Three: Wednesday February 22 Rest Day
Day Four: Thursday February 23
1pm Australia v Belgium
4.30pm Turkey v Croatia
8pm New Zealand v South Africa
Day Five: Friday February 24
1pm Croatia v Australia
4.30pm Belgium v New Zealand
8pm South Africa v Türkiye
Day Six: Saturday February 25 Rest Day
Day Seven: Sunday February 26
1pm New Zealand v Croatia
4.30pm Australia v Türkiye
8pm South Africa v Belgium
Tickets cost R100 and are available at Computicket.
For fixtures, results or more information, call Salama Khan on 083 577 6555 or visit www.saihf.com