History of the International Ringette Federation IRF

 

In 1986, 23 years after Sam Jacks invented the game of ringette, the countries where the sport was played met in Helsinki, Finland to establish the World Ringette Council (WRC).  The first Congress was attended by representatives from the five member countries: Canada, Finland, Sweden, the United States and France.  

Betty Shields, then president of Ringette Canada, would become the first President of the WRC; Antti Simola, president of the Finnish Ringette Association, became the Vice-President; Wes Clark, from Canada, was selected as the Secretary and Dale Friesen, from the United States, was Treasurer.  A Board of Directors was composed of 4 members, appointed from the member countries.

The objectives of the organization were:

  • To promote and encourage the orderly development of Ringette throughout the World;
  • To ensure uniformity of rules for the control and regulation of Ringette throughout the world and help members publish rules in different languages;
  • To promote and encourage the formation of National Ringette Associations;
  • To establish a World Ringette Championship and work towards Ringette’s inclusion in major games, including the Olympic Winter Games

 

Although the International Olympic Committee would not recommend adding ringette to the Winter Games, the World Ringette Championship (WRC) was held for the first time in 1990.  Possibly to avoid confusion with this event, the World Ringette Council changed its name to the International Ringette Federation in 1991.

Most of the individuals involved in the IRF have been volunteers, driven by their passion for the sport; and only two of the member countries, Canada and Finland, have had national offices with full-time staff. Over the years, the sport has been introduced to Slovakia, Russia, Estonia, Hungary, Australia, Japan, the Czech Republic and Switzerland; but at present, the IRF Board consists of 4 member nations – Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

 

The Former Presidents of the IRF have been

Betty Shields

Antti Simola

Carolyne Hudson

Ralf Anderson

Lucie Anne Ingoldsby

David Mills

 

 

IRF Competitions

 

In order to fulfil one of its objectives, the World Ringette Council scheduled the first World Ringette Championship for 1990 in Canada.  The host city would be Gloucester, ON, just outside Ottawa.  It was hoped that the event would be a catalyst for the member countries to establish elite-level national programs. Neither France nor Sweden was able to send a team so the tournament consisted of five Canadian teams, Finland, and the United States.  Team Alberta won the event and hoisted the Sam Jacks Trophy, donated by the family of the man who invented Ringette.

 

Two years later, the next WRC was held in Helsinki, Finland.  Canada sent two teams – Canada East and Canada West- to compete against Finland, the USA, as well as Sweden and Russia.  Russia also competed in 1994 but since that time only 4 nations have participated, Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

 

In 1998, the WRC was cancelled as only Canada was prepared to participate in the event.  A “European Tour” was organized which saw Canada and Finland play a series of games in Finland, Sweden and Germany.  In 2004, it was decided that the WRC should be played every three years rather than every two.  At its Congress in 2007, the IRF decided to add two more international events to the roster – the Ringette World Club Championship and the U-19 World Ringette Championship. On 2009 the first U19 World Ringette Championships were played in Prague, Czech Republic. The second U19 WRC was played in 2012 in London, ON, Canada.

 

After 2012 the U19 WRC was combined with the World Ringette Championships. The IRF Board made a decicion which is aiming to the future development of ringette; the WRC was decided to be divided into two pools. Sam Jacks Pool would have Team Canada and Team Finland competing with each other. The Presidents' Pool would have the junior teams from Canada and Finland competing with the developing ringette countries. With this decicion to divide the WRC into two pools the objective is to make more equal games possible for the developing ringette countries.

On 2013 the IRF Board decided that the WRC should be played every two years in the future.

 

World Club Championships

On 2008 the first World Club Championships was held in Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada. Four National Ringette League teams from Canada and two from Finland participated the tournament. Cambridge Turbos from Canada won the World Club Championship. Three years later the WCC was held in Turku, Finland, with two teams from Canada, three from Finland and one from Sweden. Lapinlahden Luistin -89 from Finland won the 2nd World Club Championship. On 2013 the IRF Board had to cancel the next 2014 WCC which was planned to be organized in Sweden, because of the financial difficulties of teams.