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Chief umpire worries over women's ice hockey in China
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The chief umpire of the women's ice hockey at the Chinese National Winter Games voiced his worries about the future of the sport after the first match in Qiqihar, Northeast China on Wednesday.


"Chinese women's ice hockey is in big trouble," said Yang, the chief umpire. "We are lack of backup force now."


Team Harbin dominated the whole match as it triumphed over Jiamusi 16-0 in the first ice hockey match, also the first match of the National Winter Games.


"The two teams are not in the same level," said Yang.


The result was not surprising. Most players of team Harbin play in the national squad, while most of team Jiamusi are not professional.


"There are 23 players in the national team, and 18 of them are from team Harbin," explained Yang. "Ice hockey is not popular in China except in the northeast, and we don't have enough professional players."


"One reason is that ice hockey equipment is quite expensive," added the chief umpire. "Most families could not afford the high expense."


"It costs more than 10,000 RMB (about US$1,400) for one player, and the goalkeeper's gear is even more expensive, costs more than 30,000," he added.


(Xinhua News Agency January 17, 2008)

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