Growing Ice Hockey in the Philippines According to Danielle Imperial
Accessibility is the leading factor affecting the growth of ice hockey in a tropical country like the Philippines. As told by Danielle Imperial, the captain of the Philippine Women’s Ice Hockey National Team, with increased accessibility, the sport can be introduced to those that are completely unfamiliar with the sport.
Due to the uniqueness and differences compared to the typical sports of high popularity in the Philippines, ice hockey a significant number of people have been attracted to and fascinated by the sport already.
However, getting people to play ice hockey has been a challenge even. These challenges have even expanded to the athletes due to a lack of accessibility to rinks/venue; while there are three rinks in the Philippines, only one rink fits the correct dimensions for and is accessible to the ice hockey community where they can all play
Another glaring issue holding back the growth of the sport is that there are no local stores that offer ready-to-use and available equipment and gear. Instead, the only option is to purchase the equipment online where they usually can only estimate their sizes and other measurements. If that does not work, a player can also opt to ask their relatives abroad to buy it for them and have it personally shipped.
“It’s very unique especially in a tropical country like the Philippines so I don’t think it’s so much a question of attracting people to the sport or gaining interest, it’s more of how accessible the sport is to most people,” Imperial said on the 19th episode of The Globally Ballin Podcast.
Aside from this, there are looming stereotypes about the sport that need to be addressed in order to take away the hesitations of potential players in trying the sport.
“Everyone thinks that hockey is a very physical sport. Everyone is under the impression that it’s expensive, it’s dangerous, and only for guys, so I think that we need to address those impressions [that] it’s not that physical and it’s not all about the hits and injuries,” Imperial added.
On the brighter side, since the national team started competing in 2017, Danielle has noticed how the sport has been gradually become more known and more and more people are watching; Imperial can speak of this in confidence as she has been in charge of live streaming of the men’s games.
The national team is exerting efforts to fulfill their vision in growing ice hockey in the Philippines. In addition, they are focused on getting media coverage, publicity, and younger players to step in and play especially for the women’s team. Their goal is that by accomplishing this, they will move to the world championships.
Ever since the COVID-19 spread in the Philippines in March 2020, the skating rinks have been closed and the national team hasn’t had the chance to train together and play. To make matters worse, they have no idea when the rinks are going to open. Amidst this, Danielle Imperial has been doing what she can off the ice like strength training and conditioning, working on puck handling and shooting. and simply watching ice hockey as much as she can.