By Jessica Hoover
Malaya Anaba, a seventh-grader at Fall Creek Junior High School, and Emma Pickering, an eighth-grader at Fishers Junior High School, have been selected to play hockey in the World Selects Invitational in Europe in April.
Because the girls are different ages, they will play on separate teams. Anaba will play for the Midwest Selects team in Geneva, Switzerland and Chamonix, France April 12-21, and Pickering will play for the North American Selects team in Bordeaux, France and San Sebastian, Spain April 19-28.
“I’m excited to meet new people and see how hockey is in other parts of the world,” Pickering said. “I want to see how North American teams can relate to other countries.”
Anaba and Pickering will compete against teams across North America and Europe, including teams from the U.S., Latvia, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Finland. The girls also will participate in a mixed-nation game, teamed with players from different nations who likely don’t speak the same language. There will also be an opening ceremonies event, a jersey exchange and guided trips of cities.
“I want to thank all my coaches who have helped me get to the point where I am,” Anaba said. “They all believed in me that I could be to where I am now.”
Anaba also plays for the Indy Junior Fuel PeeWee AA team and the Cleveland Lady Barons 12U team. Pickering plays for the Cleveland Lady Barons 14U AAA Tier 1 team.
“As you can imagine, playing girls hockey in Indiana is not an easy road,” said Anaba’s mother, Shelly Hesselink. “Our hope is to help grow the sport that both our daughters are so passionate about and inspire other girls to work hard to achieve their goals.”
Anaba and Pickering aspire to one day play in the Olympics. To donate to the girls’ European trip, visit gofundme.com/emma-and-malaya-to-world-selects-in-francespain?teamInvite=HAjR9yzEhvhDF4pelxDJyg6a2INSe9hVGFyOSNqBf5lcwt2skwkF0yktC0xGejdQ.