The sixth edition of IIHF World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend (WGIHW) takes place over 8/9 October – and this year the action is not being restricted to just players!

Two EIHA officials, Emma Sanders and Molly Mugodhi, are travelling to a camp in Sweden along with Joy Johnston – EIHA’s head of referee training and development.

The camp is organised by Joel Hansson from the Swedish Federation and Johnston is delighted that opportunities are being offered to young female officials.

“This is exactly the type of opportunity we need to be creating for our officials to develop,” she said.

“Sweden has a great officiating programme and they have some high calibre officials on the female side so it will be a great chance for our female officials to work with them but also get experience of the female leagues in Sweden and see women’s hockey in one of the top hockey nations in the world.

“We hope it will start a good relationship and partnership with Sweden for us and that we can build on this collaborative work to develop our officials across the countries in partnership.”

Johnston is arguably the best example of a female official rising through a domestic system before starting with international assignments and reaching the pinnacle of the sport. She has of course refereed in three Winter Olympics, with the bronze medal game in 2010 and the gold medal game in 2014.

The IIHF focus on growing and developing the womens game spawned WGIHW in 2011, and the extension this year to include officials is a welcome one.

” I think the WGIHW is a great initiative from the IIHF and it gives countries a chance to focus on the women’s game. When Joel Hansson, from Sweden, approached us about the idea of including officials in this initiative and building the idea with him, we welcomed it with open arms.

“It should be an initiative which works across players, coaches, officials and any role in the game. The more women we can get involved the better the development of our sport will be overall,” said Johnston.

Emma Sanders said she was ‘instantly excited’ when the invitation came through.

“Having attended the summer seminar and getting to meet Joy and hear her plans for the future development of officials in the UK, I feel honoured to have been selected to go,” she said.

“I think it will be a fantastic experience to learn from the other officials we will meet in Sweden, being able to work with other officials and to see how their officiating system works. Also to get an insight as to how an IIHF camp is run.”

Joining Emma on the camp is Molly Mughodi, who is looking to emulate Joy Johnston’s achievements in working at the Winter Olympics.

“I’m excited,” Molly said.  “It is great to have an opportunity to see how things are done in another country.

“I’m looking forward to working with officials from the UK and Sweden, learning new things and meeting new people.

“Joy is a big boost for to EIHA Referee section. She obviously had ideas about how to raise standards and help develop people in this area and is putting them into practice,” Molly said.

“The changes she’s made have really increased my commitment to the role of refereeing and the fact that she’s managed to get to the highest level of the sport shows me that it is worthwhile. I’d certainly like to ref at the Winter Olympics – that would be awesome!”

Emma agrees that having Joy involved with the EIHA officiating programme can inspire young officials making their way in the game.

“Joy is a great inspiration as she has worked through every level in the EIHA before reaching the Olympics,” says Emma.

“She is a real role model for not just female officials but all officials in the UK. I’m really looking forward to the whole experience.”

World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend is this coming weekend, 8/9 October.  For more information visit the IIHF WGIHW mini site.  We’ll have more on the EIHA WGIHW events later this week.