Devoted ringette players say they prefer it to hockey
1,000 players converge in Regina this week for championships
Despite the surge of interest in women's hockey, there's evidence ringette is still attracting a devoted following in Canada.
Ringette players from around Canada are in Regina for national championships this week — and there's a lot of them.
Organizers say the event is continuing to grow with 1,000 players taking part this year at the Co-operators Centre.
To the casual observer, the game invented in 1963 in North Bay, Ontario, looks like hockey played with bladeless sticks and no pucks. Instead, the girls pass and score with a ring.
Some regions have seen a drop in interest in ringette, while in Saskatchewan, the number of girls enrolled has grown in recent years.
Hockey, meanwhile, just got a big boost from the Olympics, with many young girls dreaming about being the next Hayley Wickenheiser.
Still, ringette players CBC News spoke to said that although women's hockey is growing fast, they're more than happy with their chosen sport.
It's amazing, it's the fastest game on ice, we think, and it's a lot of fun.- Ringette player Nina Tajbakhsh
Ringette player Nina Tajbakhsh, for instance, says she wouldn't switch.
"It's amazing, it's the fastest game on ice, we think, and it's a lot of fun," she said. "I don't think I could see myself playing hockey."
Tajbakhsh, who's played for 14 years, said she feels ringette is better than hockey because there's more passing and more interaction between teammates.
"It's crossed my mind that there's more opportunities to go further with [hockey] but I just don't know if I would enjoy it as much and that I would have as much drive in hockey as I do in ringette," Tajbakhsh said.
"Just because I love it and it's my passion."
However, Robyn Nimegeers, who was in the stands watching on Wednesday, gave up ringette for hockey and says she made the right decision.
"When I was younger I wanted to play in the Olympics and stuff like that and ringette wasn't in the Olympics," she said. "It kind of changed my love for the sport, I guess."
The tournament, now in its fourth day, continues with bronze medal games on Friday.
The gold medal games in all three divisions take place on Saturday.
According to Ringette Canada, there are currently over 30,000 players on more than 2,000 teams across Canada with more than 2,400 officials and 5,000 coaches.
It's also played in half a dozen other countries around the world, the association says.
With files from Sabeen Ahmad