Samantha Wong, 26, an executive assistant with trading company Li & Fung, has been playing ice hockey for 18 years. She is the captain of one of the two Hong Kong women's teams participating in the four-day Hockey 5s tournament at the Dragon Centre in Shamshuipo. I started playing ice hockey at age eight in Canada, where I was born. Even though it is the country's national sport, it was unheard of at that time for a girl - particularly a Chinese girl - to play this 'unladylike' sport. While most Chinese girls were playing the piano or ballet dancing, I was on skates with a hockey stick in hand. My parents were very open to letting me play, although I'm sure they thought it would only be a short-lived interest for me. In fact, it spawned a lifelong devotion. My 13-year-old sister now plays ice hockey on a boys' team, and two other siblings have also taken part in the sport. Most of the boys I played hockey with as a child were indifferent to having a girl on the team, but a few made it known that they didn't appreciate my presence. They felt that girls could not be as skilled as boys. I played on a boys' team until I was 14 - the age when males typically surpass girls in height, weight and strength. It is also the age when checking - intentional physical contact against opposing team players - is introduced into the game. Because of this I joined a women's league. In 1995 I was a member of the under-19 Team BC, which represented British Columbia at the Canada Winter Games. I also played in the inaugural 2000-01 season of the Vancouver Griffins in Canada's National Women's Hockey League. I moved to Hong Kong in 2002 for work. Even if there were no ice hockey in Hong Kong - there are, in fact, two leagues - I probably would have moved here anyway. But being at the rink cured much of my homesickness when I first arrived. The ice-hockey community is close-knit and most of my good friends here are involved in the sport. However, I was at first a bit shocked at how small the playing surface was, at least compared with ice arenas in Canada. I play for two teams in the South China Ice Hockey League - one is a co-ed squad and the other is all-women - which are in separate divisions. I also help run practices every Tuesday night for the Women's Ice Hockey Organisation, which was established a decade ago by a group of Canadian women. Many beginners - including females - get their start in ice hockey by attending these practices. There is a growing interest in ice hockey in the city. It is often called the 'coolest sport on Earth' and is a great choice for those who prefer to be in an indoor setting away from heat and humidity. People who want to start playing the sport first need to learn how to skate well, then they can join the weekly practice sessions. We have a minimum of two volunteer coaches, which allows for one-on-one instruction. Ice hockey is often regarded as a tough and sometimes violent sport played primarily by men. But it can be beneficial to women as a stress reliever. The sport is a great way to relieve tension in your mind and body after work as it is very physically demanding and your entire body is kept in constant motion. There are about 50 female players in Hong Kong. Many say they feel more comfortable playing on an all-women team because they feel under more pressure and scrutiny when playing with men. They enjoy the camaraderie and supportive environment on an all-female team. If there is a sustained interest and a core group of females who continue to play and bring up the level of women's ice hockey, Hong Kong may be able to send a team to the China Winter Games in 2007.