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Dolkar is the only one in her family who has been given a chance to study. She studies at the Secmol School. The director of the boarding school supports the girls wish to play ice hockey. When the next year’s tournament is approaching the girls make a new attempt to enter. They have to solve problem by problem: Thin Ice, bad equipment, no coaching. Finally when they find the American coach Deb, they travel over the mountain to the Muslim village Kargil and create a joint team.
Side by side the Buddhist and Muslim girls challenge the men in charge. When they finally are allowed to take part in the competition, they still have to fight for their rights both on the ice and beside the rink. The men don’t like Dolkar and her team, so they change the rules and push the girls around. Due to the injustices there is chaos with boycott and new wild protests.
Dolkar is risking her education and reputation by leading the protests. But then she also becomes the important bridge between the Buddhist and the Muslim society in Ladakh.
Well, the ice is melting away in the Himalayan February sun, so here's the skating news from January 2009.
We had the busiest skating season ever, thanks to volunteer coaches from the US, more gear donated in the past year, and a donation from Friends of VIS.
The girls started the season by going up to play in the Lalok tournament, which they had won last year. This year they were runner up after a close game that went into overtime -- the winning team was captained by Kunzes Dolma (known in SECMOL as "Little Kunzes", and seen in Thin Ice).
Then we ran a skating camp for 40 kids from rural Kargil District. The volunteer coaches and additional gear made this possible. At the same time, we had our own 40 hostel students and about 10 former students who came back for the skating season, for a total of 90.
Then our senior boys' team played in the District tournament of Leh, the CEC's Cup, where they were a great success and were cheered heartily by the crowds, reaching the finals and getting runner-up. Po Gyaltsan was awarded "Best Player" in the tournament. Ten of them played in the National Championships on the "Ex-Servicemen's Team" and now Sangdup and Po Gyaltsan have been selected to play in the national team that is supposed to go to the Asian Games in Abu Dhabi in March (though funding and passports are still uncertain).
Everybody else went to a small tournament in Chiktan. We had a busride from hell getting there, sliding in the snow all night, but from then onwards it was fun. The "Vermont USA" team won the men's part of the tournament, and our two girls' teams were winner and runner up in the girls' part. All the SECMOL boys got the chance to play too. The kids danced up a storm each night to help the bokharis heat up Aman Ali Khan's nearly finished new house. The coaches (American team) stayed with Tashi Angchuk. Friends of VIS generously contributed the cost of
the Ladakhi students' entry fees, busses and heating fuel.
After the Chiktan tour, we had a good couple of weeks of coaching just for our own 40-50 current and former hostel students.
When the ice started melting in Feb, we got back to other activities, like a workshop for the youth members of the village organisation of Nyemo village, and now we're in the middle of a 2-week youth camp for 40 kids from all over Ladakh. And 12 new VIS students & 3 teachers are settling in at the campus.
Thanks to Ashley, Max, Bill, Pete, Sooner and Adam for coaching the kids on SECMOL Campus and braving the rigors of a Ladakhi winter! And to the coaches from VIS and friends of VIS in USA, and the ICG Stars Parent Group in Denmark for their big donations of gear, and to Adam (though I'd made a stupid mistake and told him to bring lefty sticks).
Adam has also been helping the Winter Sports Club and the Ice Hockey Association of India, especially teaching the referees the rules and coaching the national team. Thanks Adam, and good luck in your future work with Ladakhi hockey! Let's hope the refs know the rules by next
Here's the wish list if you are able to collect gear:
For SECMOL students and skating camps for other kids:
1) Righty sticks
2) Protective gear, especially shin guards but really everything. As of now we've got exactly enough for one team plus an extra goalie.
3) Skates of all kinds and sizes. Some students are interested in figure skating and we hope to find a volunteer to teach it next January. For that we'll need figure skates, but most remain excited by hockey.
For the Kargil Ice and Snow Sports Club in Chiktan:
1) Goalie gear (They only have one set so they really need another)
2) Sticks, skates, and protective gear
We'll look for alternative means of transport since we had a hard time receiving the Danish donation in Delhi last year.
We'll try to get www.secmol.org/iceskating updated as soon as the internet starts working decently again in Ladakh, and please send us links if you've put anything on the internet (like Max said he'd put up video clips, like the one of the campers learning to skate in a long conga line).
New York, US
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
The Quad Cinema, New York, USA
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Selangor & Penang, Malaysia
New York City
Breuil-Cervinia & Valtournenche, Italy
Praha, The Czech Republic
Nominated to the Silver Wolf, Amsterdam, The Netherlands