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.

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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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