The Finnish women’s ice hockey team’s goaltender Noora Raty has signed on to play for male outfit Kiekko Vantaa next season.
Twenty-four-year-old Raty, widely considered the country’s best female hockey player, will appear for the second division team in the Mestis league in the coming season.
The news comes after she announced her retirement from the game after the Winter Olympics, citing the difficulty for women to earn a good living. But, after signing a one-year contract with Kiekko Vantaa, Raty will continue in hockey for the duration of the 2014-15 season at least.
The goaltender is not the first female to represent a male team; Canadian Hayley Wickenheiser played for Kirkkonumni Salama in the Mestis league in 2003-04.
Raty starred for Minnesota while she was at college in the US, winning two NCAA championships; however, after she graduated she found it tough to gain a decent income from coaching. Following the recent Olympics in Sochi, she revealed that she would be quitting the sport as she was unable to combine the tasks of being an elite athlete and working a day job.
The outspoken player has often criticised how Finland’s ice hockey association deals with its female players, complaining that training conditions and facilities are below par.
She revealed that she will not be Kiekko Vantaa’s number one goaltender, but will play from time to time to allow the main man to take a break. She said that even though she has signed a contract, she must continue to work hard to make the most of such a big challenge.