PHOTOS: Hockey history in B.C. as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

A few hundred people witnessed some hockey history in Surrey on Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 13).

Spectators gathered at Surrey Sport & Leisure Centre in Fleetwood to watch the women of Team India play in a Canadian rink for the very first time.

The exhibition game, against a Surrey Falcons bantam-division squad, was organized by the City of Surrey and officials with the Canadian Tire-sponsored Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival, or WickFest, as a preview of the inaugural tournament in Surrey, to be played from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 2019.

The tourney is hosted by Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold-medalist who has helped stage a similar event in Calgary over the past decade.

Team India is in Surrey for a few days before travelling to Calgary to play in the ninth-annual Wickfest there.

• RELATED STORY: India’s national female hockey team coming to Surrey ahead of ‘Wickfest’

With donated gear and on-ice clinics to improve their hockey skills, Wickenheiser and others launched a “India2YYC” initiative to help the team make their way to Canada this week.

In Surrey, local residents Neeru Schippel, Julie Sanghera and Bindy Dulay led a fundraising effort to help the team fly and stay here during a “pit stop,” prior to their arrival in Calgary.

In India, the team of women overcame some strong societal and familial pressures in their ambition to play hockey.

 

India’s national women’s hockey team stand for the country’s national anthem prior to a game with the Surrey Falcons at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

The Team India bench during an exhibition game with the Surrey Falcons at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zillich) The Team India bench during an exhibition game with the Surrey Falcons at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Neeru Schippel (left) and Julie Sanghera, who helped raise money to bring Team India to Surrey, at the podium during a pre-game media event at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Members of Team India pose for a photo during a pre-game media event at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

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