A new Saskatchewan hockey rule limiting where rural girls can play the sport is causing some backlash with parents.

In a year and a half, girls who live outside Saskatoon or Regina won't be allowed to play hockey in those cities, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association recently decided.

Many parents in rural areas, including Kristy Laird, don't agree with the decision.

"They're losing an opportunity to play on teams with girls of their level and developing further, and if we send them out into the rural communities there aren't enough female hockey players out there to have tiered teams,” Laird said.

A petition is circulating online to reverse the SHA decision. Laird said she started the petition after hearing from so many angry parents.

Saskatchewan Hockey Association general manager Kelly McClintock said he believes there are enough girls in most rural areas to create female teams. The decision will grow girls’ hockey, once local associations start the momentum.

"The onus of looking after female development and looking after female hockey players, as opposed to just allowing them to play co-ed and not offering any female teams, so we feel it'll spur on associations to work together and more females will get involved in the game,” McClintock said.

The SHA said, last year, 650 girls played hockey in Saskatoon. Sixty-eight were rural players.

Of the 429 players in Regina, 51 girls were from outside the city.

McClintock said more girls would play if they could play at home and that skill development comes from practice and the coach, not from tiered games.


--- Based on a report by Jennifer Jellicoe