Dr Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer is the first lady of the world’s female hockey. She is the Chairwoman of the Women’s Committee in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation). If there would be a possibility to describe someone’s life in a just one word, for Mrs. Kolbenheyer it will be for sure – hockey. Her father and brother have been ice hockey players, her husband has been also a hockey player. She has been playing hockey actively many years, even her three kids are, guess – hockey players. I haven’t asked her if she has pets. But if she does, I’m pretty sure they can play hockey too! 🙂
THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD
I come from an ice hockey family. My father was a professional player for 22 years. My brother started to play when he was 10, for the NSZE (the former name of the MAC Ice Hockey Club) in Budapest. In those days girs were not playing hockey in Hungary.
In 1989, when I was 11, my brother’s club was invited to an International Tournament in Germany. My parents decided to make a family trip, so we all went together. That was the first time I ever saw girls playing ice hockey, and I really liked that. So, when we came home, I asked my brother’s coaches to go to practices too. They allowed me, and I was the happiest girl in the world. My family and my friends were very proud of me.
A BREASTFEEDING MUM HOCKEY PLAYER
I’ve been playing hockey actively for 22 years. I have a lot of precious memories, and just a few hard moments. I have enjoyed every moment of my career, so it is very hard to choose the best one. Maybe the World Championships were the highlights. I have played at 8 World Championships (2 Qualifications Tournaments) for Hungary. If I have to choose, I would say the WC 2004. (III division, Slovenia) was the special one. It was the most difficult for me, because my first child was only 6 months old. I had to take him with me, because I was stil breastfeeding him. At that tournament I became the best player of the Hungarian national team. We won bronze medal as well, for the first time.
I played my last WC in 2011, in Australia. After my retirement, the general secretary of the Hungarian Federation, Zoltan Kovacs asked me to be the Team manager of the senior team. in those days I was working as a lawyer, but I felt I could do the both jobs. And I was happy being able to stay in touch with my favourite sport. So I accepted the offer.
80 DAYS A YEAR ON TRIP
6 months later, I was asked by the Team manager of the U18 team if I could help him as well. And I said YES again. In December 2011/January 2012, the U18 team was promoted to the Top division. We have won the Qualification Tournament, and 3 weeks later the Division I Tournament as well. So, when we came back, the general secretary asked me if I would like to run for the IIHF Council as a candidate. This time I asked for a few days to think it over, and discuss it with my family. To tell you the truth, I was shocked when I checked at the IIHF web site who were the members of the Council. I found out that the average age of the members was 68, and I was 34. But I said, let’s try, I have nothing to loose!
THE CHAIRWOMAN OF THE 2018 OLYMPIC GAMES
I’ve started to travel to the different countries with my General Secretary. During those trips I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people from the international ice hockey family. I had to make a short speech in Helsinki at the Congress as well.
5 months later, in Tokio, at the General Congress, I was elected to the IIHF Council. I got the Women’s Committee as the Chairwoman, and I started my work with the International hockey. And, in 2016 I was reelected for another 4 years term. I have to travel a lot, approximately 80 days a year. We have the Council meetings, congressses committess meetings. Our job is to go to the different World championships as chairmen/chairwomen.
It is a great honor for me that after the Sochi Olympics, I will be again the Chairwoman of the Women’s Tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.
A GREAT FAMILY SUPPORT
Of course, sometimes it is not easy to work with so many men. But they trust me, and let me lead women’s hockey.
From the other side, my husband is a former hockey player as well, so I do not have to explain him anything regarding my job. Of course, he is my bigest support. Without him and our parents, I definitely couldn’t do what I am doing in the last 5 years. We have 3 children, they are 14, 12 and 10. All three of them are playing hockey, and the two younger do fencing as well. Although I am a triple mum who has to work and travel a lot, I am still playing hockey with my friends, three times a week. Frankly, I don’t know what’s going to happen when the time for breaking up with the hockey comes. For now, I don’t want to think about it. 🙂
NEVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAMS!
At the end, I want to tell something to all young players: women’s ice hockey is the greatest sport in the world. No matter if you would like to play for your National Team, or plan to go to North America for an University, you should never give up your dreams. Maybe you have to work hard every day to achieve it, but it will worth every minute. Through ice hockey you will become a better person, find new friends, and will be a part of our great hockey family.