Being a Minority in a foreign land

24 Nov


Being a minority in a foreign land is not easy. I’m not talking about nationality here. I am talking about being a hockey player. Hockey is not a well-known or widely-played sport in Switzerland. If you tell anyone that you are a hockey player here, people automatically assume that you mean ice hockey. When you say “No, I don’t play ice hockey”, they think that you must play unihockey (I have no idea what unihockey is apart from a game played indoors with a plastic stick and is very popular). Hockey, my hockey, is neither of these.

There are only 9 ladies teams playing competitively outdoors in Switzerland. This is such a huge change for me. In England, there are between 10 and 12 team competing in each league. The league is made up of local, regional and national leagues and games are played every Saturday up and down the country from late August until March.

With 9 teams in the whole of the country, this doesn’t happen here. Games are spread out one game every two weeks (or even longer between games) and we play each team once. At the end of the round robin stage, the teams are divided into the National League A and National League B. The teams play each other once again in the league and then the champions of the A and B leagues are crowned.

It is hard to adjust to the routine of not playing so often. This routine was my life for the majority of my childhood and my adult life.

On the plus side, this means that I am finally able to say that I am playing National League level hockey, which even when I was a lot younger was only pipe dream. People are so impressed when you say that you play a sport at a national level – I really need to stop pointing out that this is only because there are 8 other teams to play against so local and regional leagues are made redundant.

It does mean that you don’t have to feel guilty because there are breaks in between games and I can go away and enjoy doing other activities, like holidays, and can still commit to playing when the games come around. I feel that this gives me a more balanced approach to life and means that I enjoy my hockey all the more because there are only a limited number of times I can play competitively during a season.

Another plus point is that the season runs from August until the end of October and then resumes in March until June. In the interim period, the game moves indoors because of the weather. So, theoretically, the weather shouldn’t be too hot or too cold or too wet to play outdoors.

Indoor hockey is a completely different game with different rules and I am a novice. At the moment, it seems like it might not be my sport: the ball never goes out of play because of the barriers (I am not fit enough by far) and the ball can’t be lifted off the ground (this is the trick I used when I am lazy and have no energy to run around an opponent).

I am sure that I will get the hang of it in the end and something that improves fitness and ball control for the remainder of the outdoor season can only be a good thing!





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