Ice hockey is hugely popular in Ladakh, but most rural kids do not get a chance due to lack of skates and equipment. At SECMOL young people from rural villages get the chance to skate and play hockey, thanks to equipment donated by friends around the world.
6 min video “Ice Hockey High in the Himalayas,” about SECMOL senior student Chamba.
2 min aerial footage of SECMOL’s ice rink, Feb 2014.
4 min. footage of ice hockey gear donation by Andrew Wabha, Jan 2014
Skates and equipment are very welcome
The biggest obstacle to ice-hockey in Ladakh is the shortage of skates, but SECMOL has many pairs donated by friends. When extra skates are donated, we donate them to a remote area that is organising to teach girls skating and hockey. So far we have donated skates to girls’ teams in Changthang and rural Kargil District. We also lend skates when our former students organise winter coaching in their villages. Smaller sizes, suitable for Ladakhi girls and women, are especially useful, but some in larger sizes are also useful. (As of Jan 2015, we’ve got plenty of skates for girls and small children, but could use two or three pairs of larger sizes, eg international sizes 41 to 43).
Sticks are always in short supply. (As of Jan. 2015 we’ve got some extra left-handed sticks but are short of right-handed sticks)
We now have just about enough protective gear for a whole team, but these would still be useful. (As of Jan 2015 we’d like more goalie gear, because we’ve got one set for a girl and one larger set for a boy, but we are often asked to lend goalie gear to other teams.)
You can send boxes through the regular postal system (not private courier) to this address, or contact us about other possibilities.
We love to have a volunteer coach for ice hockey or figure skating. You should come by mid-December to get to know the place and the students and start training before the ice starts, since the season is so short.
Heartfelt thanks to:
Over the years, volunteer coaches Jared from New Hampshire, Paul from Canada, Deb from USA, Mushtaque Ahmed Giri of Ladakh, Stobdan Chima of Ladakh, Luke and Anne from Alaska, Meighan and James from Ontario, Aaron from Florida, Adam Sherlip from New York, and others!
- Adam continued working with all local teams and organisers in Ladakh and is raising the standards of play and refereeing.
- Andrew Wahba for collecting lots of skates and gear in Canada and getting them delivered here in 2014. This allowed us to have not only our own 50 SECMOL students skate, but also 50 youth campers, and the little kids from Phey village next door.4 min video of the donation arriving.
- Curtis Koren and friends of VIS, for dozens of pairs of skates and equipment on many occasions starting in 2001.
- The Ice Babes team from ICG Stars, of Copenhagen, Denmark, for donating almost 40 pairs of skates, protective gear, and money for the rink in 2008.
- Nancy Cochran for a real skate sharpener in 2007. This has made a great difference!
- Hanover High School (NH) Varsity Women’s Ice-Hockey team and Conor Brannen for equipment in 2006.
- Kyle Banks and the Falmouth Ice Arena, for 20+ pairs of skates in 2001.
- Håkan Berthas for making the film Thin Ice about the SECMOL girls’ team captain of 2004, Stanzin Dolkar. (You can see a preview on YouTube)
- The dozens of SECMOL students over the years who have learnt skating enthusiastically and shared their equipment with other teams.
History of Women’s Skating in Ladakh
Being one of the few places in India that freezes, Ladakh is crazy about skating and ice-hockey. Natural ice allows skating from late December to early February. (There is no indoor rink in Ladakh as of 2015.) Led by the Indian Army, a few Ladakhi men played ice hockey in the 1970s, and since the 1990s the annual tournaments organised by the Ladakh Winter Sports Club have been the most exciting events of the winter in Leh.
SECMOL initiated women’s skating in Ladakh in 2001 by soliciting donated skates. We kept 20 pairs for our Campus girls, and gave 40 pairs to the Centralised Residential Government High School in Changthang (a remote, economically disadvantaged area near the Tibetan border), so they could form two girls’ teams there.
Thus in January 2002, women’s ice-hockey was played in Ladakh for the first time, and was included in the Chief Minister’s Cup tournament in Leh. SECMOL girls’ team won the women’s trophy, a “running trophy,” which means they were supposed to hand the trophy over to the next winners, in 2003.
However, in 2003 the tournament organisers and related government body changed their minds and denied that there had ever been women’s hockey, and even denied the existence of the trophy on our shelf. Instead, the girls were allowed to perform a dance at the halftime of the men’s final. Blood boiling, they secretly planned two protest songs with dances. Their second song was to be We Shall Overcome in Ladakhi, with protest banners. However, the incensed organisers snatched away the banners and did not allow them to complete the 5-minute song. Trained in non-violent protest, the young women held their ground, to the admiration of the cheering crowds. Finally, at the very end of the match, the banners were returned and they were allowed to display them. The team captain, Ms Stanzin Dolkar, showing extraordinary courage, handed the Running Trophy back to the chief guest, a minister in the state government, who praised their courage in his closing speech.
Ever since, women’s hockey has been included in at least one tournament per year in Ladakh. Most of the women’s teams in Ladakh have one or more players who originally learnt to skate at SECMOL.