The head of a group encouraging Saskatchewan girls to get into hockey is urging parents to keep up pressure on the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) over its decision to bar most girls from rural areas from playing on teams in bigger cities.
The SHA announced the move earlier this year, as part of an effort to get more girls into hockey by encouraging the formation of more teams in smaller centres.
The move drew criticism from parents and rural minor hockey associations. But the SHA opted to stick by the decision following a consultation period that ended Nov. 1.
“All the groups that came forward, they said that they just want to meet and they want the decision delayed,” SHA general manager Kelly McClintock said.
Kim Delasoy, president of the Saskatchewan chapter of Play Like a Girl, spoke about the issue Thursday on Gormley.
She said at the very least, more time is needed to get the move right.
“Alberta took three years to implement a similar plan and SHA is expecting this to be done in one year, without any collaboration, without any planning.”
Delasoy said she had concerns that the move, while well-intentioned, could ultimately lead to fewer girls playing hockey as rural-only teams would likely mean lengthy drives for parents and kids.
“The driving time alone is going to be a deterrent,” she said.
With a smaller pool of players to draw from, Delasoy said the SHA’s decision could also mean the end of tiered programs separating rural girls by skill level.
“In order to keep the girls interested and, for those girls to be able to play at the same level as what’s offered to the boys right now, tiering is something that’s required,” she said.
Delasoy encouraged parents to continue contacting the SHA with their concerns. She’s also started an online petition against the move.
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel.