Surrey hosts Team India ahead of the Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival (updated with photos)

Exhibition game against the Surrey Falcons marks the beginning of tournament celebrating women in hockey


Surrey firefighter Mark McRae with Team India.

MORE than 150 spectators gathered at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex onTuesday, November 13 to watch Team India take on the Surrey Falcons, in an exhibition game celebrating women in hockey.  This was Team India’s first-ever trip to Canada, after overcoming the country’s strong societal barriers surrounding female ice hockey.  

“We are incredibly proud to host Team India in Surrey,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “For Canadians, hockey is not just our nation’s favorite pastime, but our international language. This event is another example of how hockey transcends borders, oceans and languages.  Surrey is dedicated to celebrating our diversity and building a strong sense of community through sport and it was a pleasure to see these two teams come together for this special event.”

All photos: City of Surrey

After years of perseverance, determination and fundraising by a few Surrey residents, Team India’s young female hockey team arrived in Surrey for the first leg of their Canadian tour of the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival (WickFest) in Calgary.  The tournament is coming to the City of Surrey from January 31 to February 3 next year.

“We are elated to bring WickFest to Surrey,” said Hayley Wickenheiser, six-time Olympian and founder of WickFest. “Our tournament runs deeper than just hockey – it promotes empowerment and leadership skills young women can use on and off the ice. The support we have received from the City of Surrey and its community organizations, like the Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society, have made this event possible.  Surrey has a diverse community that supports programming for female hockey, so it was a natural fit for us to bring the tournament here.”

Now in its ninth year, WickFest has become one of the largest and most celebrated female hockey tournaments in the world.  With over 50 teams registered from as far away as Atlantic Canada and the United States, the player registration is already sold out for the Surrey Tournament.

Councillor Brenda Locke

Councillor Brenda Locke in her address said: “On behalf of Mayor Doug McCallum and City Council, I am delighted to be here to welcome Team India to Surrey. We know that hockey brings people together.  For Canadians, hockey is our not just a game but our international language. And today is another example of how hockey transcends borders, oceans and languages.

“We share in everyone’s excitement for the game this afternoon between our very own Surrey Falcons and Team India.   This is even more special for me to be here today because my own daughter played for the Surrey Falcons.

“The story of how this event came to be began with unwavering perseverance and determination. The young women of Team India broke down many barriers to play ice hockey in their small rural village in northern India with the inspiring motto: “breaking stereotypes one goal at a time.”

“From borrowing equipment from their cousins and brothers, to taking shifts through the night to build and maintain the sheet of ice so they could learn to play, these young women know what it takes to work together, and support each other.

“They are the epitome of teamwork and they have broken the glass ceiling or more appropriately the ice ceiling of sport in India.

“Their dedication to the love of the game has inspired many Canadians, including hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser, and  Surrey residents Neeru Schippel, Julie Sanghera and Bindy Dulay to tirelessly raised the funds to bring Team India here today.  We join you in thanking them for bringing them to our wonderful City to play hockey.

“As many of you know, later this week, Team India will be heading to Calgary, Alberta to compete in the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, known as Wickfest.”

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