Women’s pathway boosted by Frank Wright Conference

It is an exciting time for women’s ice hockey, with the reformatting of the Women’s Development Cup to the Frank Wright Conference. 

At the 2023 WNIHL Finals, Vicki Fidler (Chelmsford) and Nicola Blower (Coventry) started to discuss how there was a gap in the women’s programme to cater for female development from 14 years of age upwards.

Vicki Fidler, England Ice Hockey general manager for managers, said: “It started as a simple conversation between me and Nicky.  I had just started as general manager at the Chelmsford Cobras, and straight away recognised that we had a huge influx of female players coming through but nowhere to play them.

“Many girls still struggle to get ice time within the mixed junior programmes, and it sometimes seems forgotten that girls have their own pathways to the England and GB programmes. We decided there and then that we had to get females off the team bench and get them more game time, and so we took our brainstorm to Faye Andrews who fully supported the new initiative.

“Last season, the programme was called the Women’s Development Cup, and in its pilot year, we noted that we still had many women playing in the prime of their 40s, 50s and even 60s, and so could no longer call it the Development Cup.

“During conversations, we noted Frank Wright’s legacy as a lifelong manager at Chelmsford. He was also a huge advocate for the development of the women’s game, and so the name ‘Frank Wright Conference’ was agreed. 

“In September 2023, Danielle Duguid (Peterborough women’s GM) took on the lead manager role and set up the fixtures on the Stack TeamApp application. Last season the Women’s Development Cup worked alongside the REC section, who had created a Challenge Cup just before Covid hit. 

“The age group restrictions in REC meant players from 14 -18 years of age were ineligible. Players also had to register both with REC and EIH.

“After Faye had completed some amazing work with IHUK and brought down ITC costs for female players, it was agreed to move all clubs under the England Ice Hockey umbrella and the Frank Wright Conference.

Another huge plus for this initiative is that female players, whilst registered to their own teams in the FWC, can also sign up to the player pool on Stack TeamApp and be selected to make up numbers across multiple teams.

“Players have the potential to play up to 20 games per season across different clubs. There is also a coach, manager and referee pool, so the conference can assist in the development of staff at all levels. Many clubs have used these games as training to teach their volunteers gameday jobs.”

This year as we anticipate growth, Danielle, Nicky, Vicki and Sharon got together to discuss the future of the programme, updated the rules of competition and decided they needed to create a FWC committee who could assist Danielle in the running of the conference for 2024/25. 

If you would like more information on the Frank Wright Conference for 2024/25 or to volunteer for the committee, please contact: danielle.duguid@englandicehockey.com 

What you need to do to enter a female team into the Frank Wright Conference

  • Affiliate your club to England Ice Hockey 
  • Players to register with England Ice Hockey on Gameday and include ITCs
  • Complete the “Team Expression of Interest” form: 

FWC Team Expression of Interest Form

  • Register to Stack TeamApp – Frank Wright Conference

What you need to do to enter as a female player into the Frank Wright Conference

  • Register to England Ice Hockey on Gameday via your club link. If you do not hold a British passport, please complete and pay your ITC
  • Register to Stack Team App – Frank Wright Conference. Select access to the player pool or netminder pool group

What you need to do to enter as a coach, manager or referee into the Frank Wright Conference

  • Register to England Ice Hockey on Gameday via your club link.
  • Register to Stack TeamApp – Frank Wright Conference. Select access to the correct staffing group

The Frank Wright Committee will then be in touch and can assist you with any questions you may have.

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