Salmon Arm is preparing to host special guests later this month.
The city will be the pre-competition headquarters for the Japanese Women’s National Hockey Team, who will arrive on March 18. They will train at the Shaw Centre between March 19 and 24.
The team will be preparing for the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) Women’s World Hockey Championships in Kamloops where, in the preliminary round, they will take on Switzerland on March 28, Sweden on March 29 and the Czech Republic on March 31.
Team Japan is expected to practise twice a day in Salmon Arm from Saturday to Thursday, with their first practices set for 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Two free exhibition games are planned for their stay and the public is welcome to come out and cheer.
On Tuesday, March 22 at 4 p.m., Team Japan will take on the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers Major Midget Female team and on Thursday, March 24, also at 4, the Salmon Arm Midget Female Rep A team.
After the game on March 22, a team dinner is planned for the two teams.
Mayor Nancy Cooper is bubbling with excitement about the visit. She said she’s known for a while the team was coming, but Roy Sakaki asked her to ‘keep the lid on it’ until everything was arranged.
“I think it’s really exciting to be able to host that level of women’s hockey,” she says, emphasizing the sister city relationship that Salmon Arm has with Inashiki. “With our sister city, we have that whole Japanese connection. It feels like a very good fit.”
The Shuswap Recreation Society is also thrilled.
“It will be a great opportunity to display such a high level of women’s hockey in Salmon Arm, with the hope that many from the community will come out to watch and hopefully support their team during the world championships,” said David Knight, facility and event co-ordinator with the society and Shaw Centre.
Roy Sakaki adds to the enthusiasm.
“It’s a great opportunity for our community to experience a cultural exchange and a showcase of female hockey.”
The Women’s World Cup will be hosted in Kamloops from March 28 to April 4.