The Story of India’s Women’s Ice Hockey Team

Breaking stereotypes one goal at a time

Did you know that India had a Women’s Ice Hockey Team? Neither did we. Ice Hockey is a relatively unknown sport in India, even though we have a men’s and a woman’s national hockey team. Both nations teams are affiliated with the Ice Hockey Association of India and are members of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

In the breathtaking, harsh climes of Ladakh are a group of women who have defied tradition, authorities, and parents to follow their dreams.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 11.40.40 AM

Batul Kapasi and Shruvo Ghoshal visited the Women’s Ice Hockey Team in January this year at the world’s highest ice rink— a frozen lake at Gupuks, Leh.

Noor Jahan
Noor Jahan at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia

Noor Jahan, a goaltender, was inspired by her cousin — a renowned ice hockey player. When she asked her parents for a pair of skates, she was met with this response: “What are you even talking about?”

Ignorance isn’t the only challenge these girls face. They don’t have proper equipment or even an ice rink to practice in. So fifty girls got together and formed the Ladakh Ice Hockey Foundation.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 11.42.21 AM

Last year, the team participated in the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia but returned empty-handed. Noor Jahan, however, was awarded the Best Goaltender of the Tournament. Although these girls returned without a win (it was their first time playing on a proper, smooth ice rink) they came back with renewed determination. They set off to build their own ice rink with some help from the Public Health Engineering Department.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 11.43.32 AM

Ladakh’s winters are harsh and unforgiving, but also the only location these girls can practice. They manage to squeeze in just 50 days of practice in a year— a small amount for professionals. the Foundation has now since began training young girls in the hope that will one day represent the country. Next month, the women’s team may represent India at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia in Thailand. These girls may not have equipment or an ice rink but what they lack in facilities they make up for in passion and determination.

Watch the inspiring story here: