This is a translated version of the ‘Eishockey NEWS’ article about GirlsEishockey.de from 7/21/2015.
It is ambitious, almost futuristic: An individual who wants to make girls hockey as popular as volleyball, piano lessons or ballet lessons.
“It is a long process, I need a lot of patience,” says Thomas Christof: “I give it three years before I will conclude if it was successful.”
Even for insiders of the German women’s hockey community, Christof is probably unknown so far. “This is because six years ago we moved to Boston. My daughter had already started to learn to skate in Germany, and then fell in love with hockey over there.” In Boston, the family realized how normal it is when girls play ice hockey. And they saw firsthand how much time and money proud parents put into the sports careers of their daughters, particularly in this sport. The Christof family became part of this ‘system’. With their return to Germany this summer, the question came up how the future will evolve for their sport.
“Here in Boston, I’ve learned that hockey for girls can be a popular sport. It is much more accepted by the girls when they interact on the ice with other girls instead of boys,” said Christof, who draws this conclusion from talking with other parents and scientific studies about girls hockey in the US. Ultimately, organizations in Germany will benefit from more and more girls who keep coming. More players also mean more competition and thus, the level in the clubs and the national team will raise.
To create such structures through official channels, the (certainly tedious) way over the cliffs of the German hockey association policies would be necessary. Christof does not want to expose himself to politics and in best American way of life he rolls up his sleeves: “You have to try it yourself, only then you can be successful,” said Christof, who launched the website girlseishockey.de in May as a first step to make the effort public. “I’m looking for collaborators in Germany to found an association to develop girls hockey,” so the plans for the next step. Christof is reaching out especially to other parents, as well as players and friends of women hockey, who are willing to support the ideas and their implementation. “On August 13th we present the project to participants of the ‘Ladies Camp’ in Füssen, and for August 21st we invite to a conference call for anyone who is interested,” Christof already announces next activities.
Important question for potential supporters: What are the objectives of the association? Simply put: “Provide new opportunities for girls under age 15.” Say: Hockey should become a popular sport for girls with the consequences that many more girls engage in the sport, girls teams in ice hockey will become the rule and competitive game structures for girls will exist at all age levels.
“The GirlsEishockey association will act as an interface between traditional hockey associations and parents / players to address their interests” describes Christof the important task of lobbying. This should help to explore moods and opportunities in associations and local clubs, contribute ideas, and to ensure public awareness and increased consciousness.
A similar initiative already exists in the Czech Republic to which Christof will reach out. Cross-border cooperation makes sense, the problematic of girls hockey is a European, not a purely German issue. The ultimate goal is to narrow the gap between North America and the rest of the world in women hockey – from grass roots upwards.
“It is a project with unpredictable ending. Even if I can’t motivate enough people to support it, at least I can say I have tried it.”
“Yes we can, just do it” – known slogans from the US, which should motivate the German women’s hockey communities to cooperate in Christof’s project.