CALGARY -- More than 2,500 ringette players have descended on Calgary for what’s being dubbed the largest tournament of its kind in the entire world. 

The 34th annual Esso Golden Ring Tournament officially gets underway Friday morning at several arenas throughout the city and will continue through to Sunday's finals.

Organizers say 173 teams — from Atlantic Canada to British Columbia — will participate in this year's tournament and a total of 340 games will be played. Over 400 hours of ice time has been rented out for the event

Tournament chair Kate Coolidge says such an initiative wouldn’t be possible without the more than 600 volunteers and 760 coaches giving back to the sport. 

"The growth of ringette in Calgary and our tournament can be attributed directly to our imperial steadfast and generous support of ringette in our city and our passionate and diligent volunteers," said Coolidge. "Connecting with the See What She Can Do hub where active female athletes unite around the power of sport will also give our teams an opportunity to share their stories, increase their team coverage and inspire other female athletes."

Teams this year will range from the five-year-olds in the Active Start division to the U19 age group. 

The tournament also includes the Calgary Rath and Manitoba Intact of the National Ringette League. Their feature game will take place 6:15 p.m. Saturday at the North East Sportsplex.

The championship games will be held Sunday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at North East Sportsplex, Village Square, Henry Viney, Murray Copot and East Twin Arenas. 

The sport created by Sam Jacks in 1963 has continued to grow across Canada over the last few years. In Canada there are more than 31,000 registered players on nearly 2,000 teams. In Alberta alone, there were 6,522 registered players in the 2017-2018 season. 

For more information on this year’s tournament, visit Esso Golden Ring.