It was a long time coming for Ukraine’s women hockey stars to hit the inter-national stage again, but when they did last month – did they ever make a splash! The team set all kinds of re-cords in their first action in 24 years by winning the Division 2B qualification tournament in South Africa last month. Despite having to contend with the warm summer temperatures in Cape Town – “We found it difficult to breath at our first practice,” recalls team cap-tain Diana Kovtun – Ukraine won all four of its games, including a decisive 4-1 victory over the favoured Belgians, to advance to next year’s Group 2B tournament.
The team also recorded its biggest-ever win, a 5-1 thumping of Bulgaria. It was Ukraine’s first action at the world stage, having last competed internationally at the 1995 European championships. Just four players remain from that squad, still playing well into their 40s. “We dream that the flag of our country will be raised in the international arena,” alternate captain Tetyana Tkachenko of Kyiv’s Ukrainochka told What’s On Kyiv last year. Now that her dream has come true, the girls have their sights on bigger prizes. Catch your girls in action this month as Kyiv’s Ukrainochka take on Kyiv Avto-mobilist at Shallet Arena on 22, 23, 24 February. Turn to pg 18 for details.