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IIHF Women's Development Cup - An Introduction


Women's hockey around the world has been growing fast. With the Women's World Championship currently happening in Denmark, countries just starting on their women's hockey adventure are gearing up for their first tournament in Kuwait City. Ireland, Andorra, Luxembourg, Colombia, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates will gear up between Nov. 6 - 12. Teams are all developing the sport, but all are having issues of their own. Here is an introduction on every team and their current situation.

Ireland

Ireland's President and Co-Founder of the Development Cup Aaron Guli has been hoping to have a yearly Women's Development Cup for a while now. But a lot of issues happened that didn't allow the tournament until 2022. But now that it is happening it will help out the growing women's team from Ireland.

Ireland's interest in ice hockey has been shrinking. The country used to have an ice rink in Dundalk, but with ownership issues the rink hasn't been used sine 2013 and without it the only rink on the island is in Northern Ireland. Both men's and women's hockey wouldn't be able to grow because the nearest rink was a six hour drive away.

Despite that the women's program there has remained strong and has enough players to have their own team. The country is hoping to get an ice rink in the coming years and with that it will boost their women's program in the country.

Andorra

Andorra is a small country between France and Spain. The nation has an ice rink and has been gaining interest in the sport. But the nation is small and historically could only get a few women to join teams with boys in them. In the last few years there has been more of a push to grow small leagues in the nation with men's leagues and women's leagues. Now there is a league where women can play with each other even though most of the league is full of people from neighboring countries.

Another issue that surrounds the nation is the lack of a post-secondary education infrastructure. The country does have a university, but it doesn't offer enough courses for most of the population. Most people leave the country during their education which makes it harder to continue their hockey journey during some of the most crucial years of a hockey player's life. Andorra has always been at The Development Cup with Ireland and they continue that trend during the women's side hopefully grows.

Colombia

South America's biggest ice hockey nation in terms of success. Colombia joined their first Men's Development Cup earlier in the year and won. Now they are joining the tournament with their women's team. Like Ireland the nation doesn't have an ice rink but unlike the Gaelic nation Colombia has never had one and has started this journey from the bottom.

Colombia has had a women's team even before joining the IIHF in 2019. They played in 2015 in what is now known as Amerigol Latam Cup. It's a yearly tournament for teams in Central and South America to hopefully develop the sport. The tournament is not sanctioned by the IIHF and had more freedom of the players that were allowed to play on their teams. What is important about their entrance in an IIHF-sanctioned tournament is that the nation has enough eligible players to host a full team.

Colombia will be the first South American team to have a women's team in a IIHF-sanctioned event. Their next goal will be in the main IIHF tournaments but that will have a few prerequisites such as having an ice rink.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg has been in the men's main IIHF tournaments since 1992. Since then Luxembourg has developed their men's programs but hasn't been able to grow their women's. What has been reported is that Luxembourg is not able to have a full team that meets the IIHF standards. The hope is that this tournament will help bring attention to the women's game in the country and attract interest.

The nation does not have a professional league for women and has little infrastructure for the women's game. A lot of media rounds have been done by players in Luxembourg, their surrounding nations and the hockey community. They are hoping that they can continue to keep the population's attention to understand there needs to be more work involved with the women's game.

Kuwait

The small Middle Eastern country will be the host for the first-ever Women's Development Cup. Women's hockey has been growing a lot in the region in the past few years and it's expected that Iran will be the first nation from the region to compete in the main IIHF women's tournaments.

This is the second IIHF-sanctioned event that Kuwait's women's team will play in. Their first one was in 2019 where they joined the Challenge Cup of Asia where they lost all three of their matches by a 10-point difference or more. They are hoping to have their first victory in program history in front of a home crowd. Kuwait is also has the most women registered as hockey players and the only country with more than 100 with 163 registered.

United Arab Emirates

The best nation in the Middle East right now is the UAE. Next year the country will be Division II, a division that has never been reached before by a country from the region. The UAE women's program hasn't had the same success even though it has been developing for a long time. Even though an Asian-nation tournament returned to the IIHF since Covid-19, it was only a men's under 20 tournament.

The women's Challenge Cup of Asia was the only IIHF-sanctioned tournament that UAE could play and since covid they haven't been able to participate. In November they will finally return and hopefully continue to grow the sport for women in the country. UAE has also added a lot of staff and contributors to the women's game in the past year.