(Ila Hobbins of Kanata moved to back to Great Britain to play women’s hockey. Ila is a forward on the Great Britain Women’s Ice Hockey Team and will competing in the Women’s Four Nations in Katowice, Poland this upcoming February from the 6th to the 9th in preparation for the upcoming World Championship in South Korea. Photos: Submitted)
Even as a little girl, Kanata raised Ila Hobbins has always had big dreams.
After moving from England to Ottawa when she was just a child, she took a liking to Canada’s national winter sport and began practicing playing ice hockey regularly.
“I actually started playing a year later than most kids in Canada as I had just moved from England,” Ila said. “But I excelled pretty quickly and made it to competitive hockey pretty early on. Just absolutely loved playing which allowed me to put in the effort and hard work because the passion and love for the sport was always there from me.”
She made it her dream to one day play at the highest level and do everything she could to earn a gold medal.
And even at her young age, Ila’s skills on the ice certainly made an impression.
“Being pretty tall, I use that to my advantage, standing in front of the net screening the goalie, getting those rebounds, just being that big net presence in front, just like Brady Tkatchuk from the Ottawa Senators.”
“I’d also say I am pretty aggressive, forechecking and backchecking, going hard to get the other team to cough up the puck and catch them chasing back.”
Ila was able to use these to her advantage, and before long she was being selected for higher level teams.
But unfortunately, women’s hockey is no easy feat. After high school, the options to play organized hockey are much more limited for women.
And though playing hockey in Kanata was such a fond memory for her, it was soon time for Ila to move onto bigger and better things.
“Playing in the Kanata tournament at Bell Sensplex and making it all the way to the finals, winning that gold medal and trophy with my team was always such a great memory,” Ila gushed. “Counting down those last final seconds of the clock and hearing that buzzer sound knowing our team made gold was so amazing”.
But at 19, Ila packed up her things and moved over 5,000 kilometers all the way back to England, where she would continue working towards her dreams of playing hockey internationally.
However, in order for Ila to compete internationally, she was required to play in the women’s British league for at least one year before she could play internationally.
In her first year playing after the big move, she was offered a chance to represent England and compete internationally. However, she would not be playing hockey.
Instead, Ila was offered a spot on the first ever British Bandy team to compete in the Women’s Bandy World Championship.
Though inspired by ice hockey, field hockey, and soccer, Bandy does have its differences. With a larger team and larger rink than traditional ice hockey, and a ball instead of a puck, these differences would certainly take time to grow accustomed to.
“I wish I had known when I first started to preserve my energy! It’s not like ice hockey, it’s such a huge ice surface. You get very tired very quickly, I wish I knew you don’t stop in bandy; you just have to keep circling to preserve your speed,” she confessed.
However, Ila didn’t have much time to adjust to the changes. Having never played the sport before, it wasn’t until a few days before the tournament that she was able to start training and practicing.
“Not knowing much about the sport and not having any practice before competing was very nerve wracking,” Ila admitted, “but the coaches and team were so amazing at working with me to teach me everything quickly.”
Ila played as a forward in Group B for the tournament, which consisted of Estonia, Switzerland and the Netherlands, while Group A had Sweden, Finland, Norway and team USA.
During the tournament, Ila managed to net 6 goals and helped Team Great Britain (GB) win a silver medal. This achievement only pushed Ila to work harder.
After reaching 41 points in 14 games with Bristol Huskies women’s hockey and leading her team to a commanding first place finish as well as a playoff championship and league promotion, Ila was invited to the Women’s Great Britain Ice Hockey Camp.
Ila was then given the chance to take part in the team’s round robin games in Poland this upcoming February from the 6th to the 9th in preparation for the upcoming World Championship in South Korea.
“Making that Great Britain team to represent internationally in Poland for women’s ice hockey is an incredible achievement that I’m so excited to be apart of,” Ila admitted.
But her hard work doesn’t stop there; Ila still has big plans for the future.
“The next step for me is working hard to join GB in the world championships in South Korea and to help the team win gold and make our way up to eventually play against the best of the best including one day Canada!”
“I’m also hoping to return again to play bandy internationally for Great Britain and compete to win gold!”