Hockey Winnipeg held its annual Skate and Educate session for young girls on Aug. 27.
From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 6:40 to 7:40 p.m., coach Billy Keane led two sessions of introductory hockey to girls ages eight and under at the MTS Iceplex (3969 Portage Ave.).
"They’re professionally-run sessions. What we’re about is exposing girls of age groups of six to eight years old (to the idea) that there is the option of playing female hockey," said Colleen McFadden, director for the female division of Hockey Winnipeg.
Keane has been running hockey camps for 24 years, and has been coaching the Skate and Educate sessions for four years, introducing girls to the world of hockey.
Since the participants are young, the 50-year-old coach began the sessions by teaching them how to balance on the ice if they don’t know how.
"The first thing newcomers will do is fall down, and they can’t get up, and it becomes a negative thing for them," Keane said.
Once the girls have learned to balance themselves on the ice, they begin to work on simple stride activities to understand how their legs will move around the ice. Keane also taught them stationary puck activities.
Keane said that girls playing hockey is a more common occurrence now than it was 20 years ago, thanks to many female role models in the sport.
"It’s kind of neat that more girls are involved, not only in Canada, but worldwide," Keane said. "If it’s something they like to do, it’s important. It’s a chance to understand what (teamwork) is about, whether it’s soccer, baseball, hockey."
Parents don’t need to be concerned about their daughters’ safety, because there’s no bodychecking in female hockey across the world, and especially not in Keane’s sessions.
For more information about Hockey Winnipeg, visit wmha.mb.ca or call