But there's still a long way for these women to go before they are recognized as sporting equals in a country where the United Nations rates female participation in decision making as "extremely low" and perhaps the best known sports coverage of women has centered on fears over prostitution and sex trafficking during the Euro 2012 football tournament that was co hosted by Poland."In Ukraine the men, when they see me with my equipment, they ask me: 'Why are you playing ice hockey You're a girl it's better you're in the kitchen,'" says Valery Manchak, one of the star forwards of the Dnipro Queens team.The scorer of 18 goals this season, the 20 year old learned to skate as a child and, against her mother's wishes, took cheap nfl jerseys
up playing ice hockey with a boys' team.A sports fanatic, she dreamed of one day representing Ukraine at international level, but was forced to give up playing at 13 the age where men's hockey becomes a contact sport because there were no girls' teams to play with in the former Soviet state.READ: Muirfield golf club's historic voteThe Kyiv Ukrainochka team played in the first Ukraine's women's final.Disappointed but undeterred, Manchak took up boxing instead, and was soon competing at international level.Ice hockey, however, remained her "one true love." So when two years ago she heard a team had been set up in Dnipropetrovsk a city some three hours' drive from her hometown Kharkiv she knew straight away that she would join."People have prejudices about women playing ice hockey, but when they see we're good they get interested, they start to respect us," she says. "So just getting out there and playing, that's a powerful thing."Sweden women wear motivational messages on football shirtsAmong Manchak's first converts to women's ice hockey was her mother who although initially disapproving of her daughter playing a "man's game rather than sitting home and studying" quickly became her biggest fan, attending all her games and loudly berating the male referee from the sidelines if he missed a penalty.Years of hockey experience, however, makes Manchak the exception rather than the rule.Registered in September 2016, Ukraine's women's hockey league has only five teams, just passing the four team threshold required to gain official recognition by the Ice Hockey Federation. The Russian women's league has eight teams.Finding enough players to cobble together teams was among the biggest challenges in getting the league up and running.
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