May 20, 2019 / 7:58 PM / in a month

Ice hockey: Top women's players form union, seek North American league

(Reuters) - Top women’s hockey players from around the world have formed a union to support the creation of a viable women’s professional league in North America, they said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Ice Hockey - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Semifinal Match - Canada v Olympic Athletes from Russia - Gangneung Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Goalie Shannon Szabados of Canada in action. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s (PWHPA) formation follows more than 200 players deciding to sit out the upcoming professional season after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League said in March it was shutting down.

The PWHPFA will work to build a sustainable league that will showcase their talent, the union said in a statement on Monday.

The National Women’s Hockey League currently is the only professional league in North America.

“We are fortunate to be ambassadors of this beautiful game, and it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of players have more opportunities than we had,” Kendall Coyne Schofield, gold medallist with Team USA in 2018, said in a statement.

“It’s time to stand together and work to create a viable league that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of our hard work.”

The players are looking for a professional league that will provide financial and infrastructure resources, provide health insurance and training programs and work with companies, business leaders, and sports professionals worldwide.

“We know we can make this work, and we want the chance to try,” said Canadian two-time Olympic gold medallist Shannon Szabados.

The union includes players from the United States, Canada and Europe.

“We might play for different teams, and come from different countries, but we’re united in our goals,” said Finnish goaltender Noora Räty.

“This is about protecting ourselves, protecting our future, and making hockey a better place for women and girls.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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