Kayla Franchesca: Playing on Ice

Yessir, there is a Philippine women’s Ice Hockey Team…

And they’re all set for this month’s IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia. One team member is flying out from Sydney – Kayla Franchesca – whose family just recently migrated to Oz.

Now seriously there is a Philippine women’s Ice Hockey Team?

“I get that a lot!” Kayla tells AK referring to usual queries she receives from head-scratching Pinoys who express surprise that there is a full-blown Philippine team that plays a sport on ice.

“Whenever people find out that I play ice hockey they usually say either ‘There is ice hockey in the Philippines?!’ or ‘You play ice hockey? But you are small.’”

The 22-year old 5’1” De La Salle graduate plays forward left winger for the national team. She was barely 7 when she started playing ice hockey but not without first learning to skate on ice (of course!).

“I saw the movie ‘The Mighty Ducks’ when I was young. I remember walking inside the mall with my parents and I immediately begged them to take me ice skating. After that I knew I wanted to play ice hockey,” she relates.

School and the love for another sport – soccer – took her mind off ice hockey for some time until a Canada-based uncle went back to the Philippines and reignited her attraction to the sport.

Her first competitive game in the Philippines was at the SM Mall of Asia where she played in the MIHL (Manila Ice Hockey League). She was the only girl then to play in the entire league during that season.

“The very first ice hockey club I played for was called the Manila Blackwolves (Peewee), then the Christian Voyagers (Bantams). And when I got back after my long break, our club was called the Manila Hawks coached by my uncle. In the Manila Ice Hockey League, I played for the Manila Predators in my first season, then got drafted to Emperador Deluxe, and then to Omni.”

While the upcoming tournament is not the team’s first international outing, it is considered a landmark event as it will be the first time that the Philippines will be playing as a fully accredited entity under the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Their family are new migrants first settling in Perth until they decided to move to Sydney where athletic Kayla is now trying on a bit of surfing.

“My dad is a surfer and he lives in Baguio City so whenever I would go there to visit him we would drive to La Union and surf. I know how to play a bit of basketball and can shoot very well since I watch a lot of NBA.

“I read a lot or just watch sports. I follow the NBA, NHL, NFL, and EPL. I like watching sports news too. I try to learn about sports as much as I can because my dream is to work in the sports industry.”

That dream is already beginning to materialise. She currently does part-time jobs as a journalist for the Australian Ice Hockey League and as statistician for the Sydney Basketball League. She does fundraiser work too for UNICEF, Greenpeace, and ActionAid Australia.

Back in the Philippines, Kayla, a major in filmmaking, did modeling jobs and was an endorser for Gold’s Gym Philippines, Adidas Neo Label, Sunsilk among others. She was once a muse for the PBA D League.   Barely a year in Sydney, she still misses the Philippines.

“It was very difficult at first because I used to feel homesick every single day, but like everything else, it just took time before I got to settle in and get used to things. I still miss home from time to time but I think of how lucky I am to be able to experience living in a different country.”

Although now based in Australia, she’s excited to be representing the Philippines in a sport she enjoys.

“When people ask me what I love about ice hockey, I usually just typically say that it’s fun, because it is. I just have fun when I play and I don’t feel anything else,” she says.

The tournament in Thailand takes place from March 7 to 15. Participating countries include Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and the Philippine

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