Get in line to hit the ice

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2012, 12:00am


Inline hockey is popular in the United States, Canada and Europe, but relatively new to Hong Kong. With one less player in each team than ice hockey, skaters have more space to play in.

Fewer stoppages and harsher penalties for rough play mean games tend to be higher scoring, less physical and focus more on speed and skill.

'The sport aims to develop people both athletically and personally. Children in particular will benefit from being part of a team, developing new sporting and communication skills,' says Louie Bailey, programme officer at the YMCA's King's Park Centenary Centre.

'Players can enjoy trying something new and making progress. There is also the chance to represent the Hong Kong, China team and compete in tournaments around the world.'

The sport is being developed by the Hong Kong China Inline Hockey Association (HKCIHA), which is affiliated to the Hong Kong Federation of Roller Sports. Inline hockey has reached international level with the HKCIHA hosting the annual Hong Kong Inline Cup, the largest tournament in East Asia, attracting teams from Britain, the United States, Canada and Brazil.

The YMCA runs leagues at King's Park and also offers training courses. The Tykes Inline Hockey Programme is for children aged four to six years and participants learn basic skating, and hockey skills.

On completion, children will be ready to participate in the Hong Kong Youth Inline Hockey League. There are also courses for children aged five to 10 years, at two ability levels, introductory and advanced.

All courses run for eight weeks, with weekly 90-minute classes conducted in English supplemented with Cantonese.

Cost is HK$800 for members and HK$870 for non-members. The introductory course teaches the rules and basic skills including stick handling, passing, shooting and team play. Skills are developed through game-based activities.

The advanced course teaches advanced skills needed for competitive game play and are conducted in a safe and fun environment.

On completion, students are ready to join a team and play competitive matches.

The YMCA also offers courses for youths aged 11 to 14, and 15 and above at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

All courses run for eight weeks, with weekly one-hour classes conducted in Cantonese and supplemented with English. Cost is HK$750 for members and HK$820 for non-members.

There is also a Family Skating Fun Class for parents and youngsters aged five to 17, who are absolute beginners.

Through the use of game-based activities, basic skating skills such as keeping balance, forward and backward skating, turning, forward crossover and stopping is taught.