Tuesday, February 23, 2010

my hockey journey (LAMEASS TITLE, IKR)

So, I play hockey for my hall..and have been since the Inter Hall Games (IHG) started in December last year. I ended up in it by chance..being just called up for the team cos they didn't have enough players and cos they decided to tap on the softball girls for "sportswomen" who could potentially play the sport.

Yeah I've played hockey, but recreationally in secondary school and JC..in other words, I was pretty much a noob at it- but it wasn't like I hadn't handled a hockey stick before. So I was like, ok fine, just play.

I remember distinctly it was a Sunday morning and we had to report at 9am. Of course Izzy and I turned up, together (we sorta come as a package haha) and we learnt the rules of the game in the half hour before the match started. This was both our first times playing on a real hockey pitch, at Delta summore! (It has a massive "Home of Hockey" banner there haha) so getting used to the vastness of the place and getting our bearingswith the stick.

They actually let me start! As a forward during the first half, and Izzy subbed me in the second half. With the help of two national players on our team, and pure talent from some of the other girls on the team, and just keeping the ball in play (on the part of the noobs) we progressed rapidly from qualifying to quarters.

We returned the following Sunday, again keeping the same order of play where I played the first half and Izzy, the second. We played our hearts out and we won 2 more games and qualified for the semis (the final 4). Oh yes, at this point I should probably mention that all 16 halls sent in male and female hockey teams for the IHG. Ok, done.

Upon reflection of my time thuse far in hockey, I realised that in any team sport I play, I usually prefer playing the role of defender..so playing as a forward required a mindset shift. No, I didn't score any goals (lol please, that would've been expecting too much) but at least I didn't make a fool of myself and I was very proud of that! I also quite liked the shrots and knee-high socks combination, mostly because I could finally put my soccer socks to use.

I was also hoping that I was making my dad proud in some little way, carrying on his hockey playing legacy. He played hockey all through school and he even played it for the army. So basically that's all he did throughout National Service; play hockey. What a life.

He was rather impressed that we were playing on astroturf, which has to be watered down before and after every game. He used to play on GRASS at the grounds near CCAB and the Old SMU (haha! old skool yo!). He always picked me up after the games..I think it's cos he wanted to hear how they went, and how I'd played. :)

So we'd qualified sometime in early January, and we finally got the call last week (a good 2 months later?), that they'd decided to bring the matches back to the school grounds. We have a lovely,well-maintained pitch at NIE, lying RIGHT there all along -__-

I was relieved that they were finally happening, but I was shit scared cos I knew I was unfit. Since the softball season ended, the only exercise I'd been getting was at the clubs (dancing, of course! what were you thinkinggg) -__- I think I can speak for all of us that we were super out of it, having not played the sport for months. (Well, except for Izzy..she's a true sportswoman and super fit and can play anything and I am so tempted to use the word goddess-like now hahaha)

And then I get a bombshell of a text.

The captain asked me if I could play Keeper. At first she said it was cos the two other girls who'd been playing keeper all along couldn't make it (and i was like, thanks. i feel like such a spare tyre now) And then she revealed to me that they were neither tall enough nor agile enough. LOLWHUT. Yeah ok i'll take that as a compliment!

But then it got me thinking that maybe I just sucked as a field player so they dumped me in goal..so I was realllyyy upset about it, and I was telling my "jock" friends that I didn't wanna do it cos I thought it was lame, but mostly cos I was damn scared about the responsibility of defending goal. But by then I'd already agreed to play. Take one for the team, Ahmad had advised me. And yeah, I was actually willing to. Even though I'd never actually been in the keeper's pads before, much less played that position!

GUH. The beauty of it was, the first time I wore the full pads (which consisted of "Smartypants" LOL, which are massive weightloss advert-type padded shorts, a chest plate, shin guards, kickers, which is the bit that covers your shoes, a rectangular shaped shield in my left hand and a hockey stick with a glove-like thing in my right hand. OH. And a claustrophobia-inducing helmet) was 40 minutes before our semis match. LOL. I was like, this is some JOKE right?! Cos i looked like a transformer, and could barely move..

But my captain and vice-captain and the defenders were so supportive of me in my noobiness and promised that they would run back to help me guard the post if ANYTHING happened. They'd defend with their lives for me. It was all a bit drama, but it was reassuring lah. I felt safe. I felt I could ACTUALLY pull it off.

But hey, I didn't even have to do anything during that match cos the attack was SO good, that the ball crossed the midline no more than twice during the course of the game. WHUUUUTTT. Ok lah, the other team was just fumbling. We won them 4-0.

The captain warned me that I WOULD be tested in the next match though, the finals, in other words.

As we cooled down, we watched the other two halls battle it out- the traditional powerhouses vs a bunch of relative unknowns who were putting up a pretty decent fight (the team was made up of half the winning female softball team, so hockey wasn't their first sport either, just like our team). I remember being instructed to watch the keeper of the powerhouse team, cos they said she was an experienced one. I don't remember wacthing her much, cos unlike our semis game where play was concentrated on one side of the field, this game was mostly played out in midfield, with few shots on target and the keepers weren't tested. Except for the 1 goal that the powerhouses scored, which was really unfortunate. Cos the underdogs put up SUCH a fight.

After that match ended and we had half an hour till our 10.25pm Finals match, I was taken aside and again reminded that this game, I'd definitely be tested, so I needed to be on my toes. Literally. (It was advice given to me by the keeper of the SA guys hockey team in my year, who was there to support one of our girls haha :) I listened to him alright!)

to be continued..


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