The Edmonton Female Hockey Alliance has the noblest of aims; to put girls from across the city into one system, where they play against their peers and get much better experiences than their predecessors did.
The EFHA held a big launch event earlier this week in the ICE District, and the message was simple. Unite girls hockey under one banner. Basically, a girls league, where female players come first.
But with that comes extra costs. And what does that mean for a game that’s already struggling with criticisms about how much it costs to play the game, and the lack of diversity within hockey?
Aimee Skye of the Female Hockey Committee says the organization has an “unwavering commitment to an excellent player experience,” and that means more emphasis on development and support for the athletes. The reason that one overarching organization works better than a bunch of smaller hockey clubs is that, by bringing all the girls’ players together, there is enough of a critical mass of them so they can be properly tiered. There is no need to put girls on boys’ teams.
In smaller clubs, there weren’t a lot of registered girls — so the ones who do play were often thrown together, despite skill level. So, teams were mismatched. And it wasn’t always fun, and players didn’t develop like they should.
Skye says there are 1,250 girls currently playing hockey in Edmonton, and, in the coming years, if the numbers could be boosted, and all of those females were playing in appropriate, competitive programs, “that would be a measure of success.”