Inline Hockey in NSW in the 90’s was an up and coming sport. AILHA ran a state wide competition with two leagues ranging from under 9’s all the way up to senior and masters. The league was fun and competitive, for everyone knew that how you and your team played would be a springboard towards mid year state trials. This state produced some of the best teams throughout all age groups. We had talent representing Australia at World Championships. So what happened?
One of the reasons, were rinks being sued over patrons from general skating sessions were falling over and hurting themselves, this was costly to revenue and general operational costs.
Another reason was the era it was in. The 90’s and early 00’s saw the surge in kids skateboarding rather than Inline Skating. Whether this was because it was the ‘cool’ thing to do or it was the myspace equivalent to the society movement to the likes of Facebook, it happened quickly, new players were not registering to play.
When this shift occurred, regarding the view of skating and the amount of rinks closed in quick concession, it became an inevitable dagger in the game of Inline Hockey.
Players moved to Ice Hockey which is now thriving in NSW and Australia on a whole. Ice Hockey is a great game and deserves all the attention it is receiving. Can both codes exist in NSW again?
It can and will happen again but it requires first and foremost more rinks to open. Maximum Skating at Smeaton Grange is a great place to play Hockey with its ice court feature and full boards and glass exposure. But the game requires more rinks to open to fulfil any statewide competition. Inline Super League (ISL) has brought back many top names from the game back to compete against the very best NSW has to offer, while the X-League (Maximum Skating’s in-house league) is a stepping stone league to the ISL and a place for hockey enthusiasts to play competitively. These leagues are great but the game demands more. It demands rivalries, it needs cross town battles of supremacy and spirited competition to truly be recognised as a legitimate sporting code once again.
How do you make that happen?
It begins with the next generation. The kids and youth of today need to be made aware of the game so much so, that the demand will be needed for a market to be made. Hence People will want to open rinks around the state again. Development of the game in schools is important but this comes with a cost. To supply skates, sticks, pucks and even gloves is quite costly but the end game to this is that kids will be exposed to it and possibly love it so much they’ll sign up to play at a local rink.
Whatever the future holds for Inline Hockey it can be bright with the right social media exposure and opportunity for kids to know about the sport and nurture their skills.
If you want to look into the sport more, come on down to Maximum Skating Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.