In spite of not having proper infrastructure, people from different parts of Ladakh came to witness the 12th Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) Ice Hockey Championship, inaugurated here at the Karzoo ice hockey rink on Tuesday.
A total of 16 teams - 9 men's teams and 7 women's teams - are participating in the tournament. In the men's opening game, Chushul outplayed Skara Sporting Club, while in women's first match, Secmol defeated Spituk.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Secmol's player Tsetan Dolma said: "From today we are playing the 12th CEC Ice Hockey Championship. We are getting the opportunity to represent India, play in national and even an international level. We have very harsh winter but we have a very good game to play."
"Everybody in India is looking forward to having this game in their state. So we people from Ladakh are very lucky to have this harsh winter where we get natural ice to play on, which empowers women in this game as well," she added.
Unlike countries like Canada, where the game is played at international level in artificial stadiums, people of Ladakh mostly play on frozen lakes and rivers.
The Deputy Chairman of Ladakh Winter Sports Club, Gyal P. Wangail revealed that they have been organising the tournament from the past 12 years to promote the game. The participation among the girls, which was lesser in number earlier, has also drastically increased.
"Ice hockey is popular in Ladakh region, especially in youth and students. We have been organising the tournament from the past 12 years to promote the game. We have 9 men's teams and 7 men's teams. Earlier, there was a lesser number of women's teams. This shows that now girls are also interested in the game and want to compete and grow. That is why today... be it, girls or boys, they represent India in international Ice Hockey tournaments. We hope in the coming days, Government of India, Ministry of Sports will recognise the game. I also want to request our Jammu and Kashmir sports council to recommend Ice Hockey forward," Wangail told ANI.
Organised as a collaborative initiative by Youth Services Sports and Ladakh Winter Sports Club, the players are provided with regular training in order to improve their performance.
"We provided regular training to ice hockey players and ski skaters for 15 days which ended yesterday. We want them to excel so we provide coaching from basic to intermediate to advanced level. Then train them for Ice Hockey and take them to international level," Wangchuk said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)