A Central Alberta Amazon player blocks a Calgary Jags player as she pushes for the puck during Saturday’s game at the NexSource Centre. (Photo by Michaela Ludwig)

A Central Alberta Amazon player blocks a Calgary Jags player as she pushes for the puck during Saturday’s game at the NexSource Centre. (Photo by Michaela Ludwig)

Wildcat Saturday in Sylvan Lake

It was Wildcat Saturday at the NexSource Centre this past weekend, Nov. 12, where the all-star ladies of hockey descended upon Sylvan Lake for some epic match-ups.

The first game of the day saw the Central Alberta Amazons face off against the Calgary Jags, and both teams are part of the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League (AJFHL.) The female teams for the Sylvan Lake area are called the Wildcats, and our Wildcat teams played against various central Alberta teams for the rest of the day. The Wildcats have U11 and U13 teams, operated by Bentley Minor Hockey, as well as U15 and U18 teams, operated by Eckville Minor Hockey.

Women often face more challenges in sports than men, right from the start. “Starting at a young age, girls tend to start sports later than boys and often drop out sooner – a participation rate of seven to 10 per cent lower, according to an article by the LA Times called “Study shows women athletes still face barriers” in 2020,” stated a press release by the AJFHL.

“It’s difficult to dream up a reality of professional sports if you can’t actually see or experience those ‘like you’ doing it for themselves,” the released continued. “Not to say there aren’t great professional female athlete role models, we are sure there are. However, we are challenged with the fact that they might not be as shiny to the general public as male athletes due to the lack of media coverage and awareness.”

Access, gender bias, poor experiences and cost are all barriers female athletes face.

“Both access and gender bias leads us to the quality of a young girl’s experience in sports,” continued the AJFHL press release. “It can be discouraging or seem impossible with barriers like a lack of opportunities or facilities. It can also create an avoidance of being judged or bullied for doing activities that are not only outside their comfort zone, but also others around them.”

Learn more about junior female hockey initiatives at ajfhl.ca.

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