Thursday 6 September 2018

One day one photo - 6: Back to hockey

We are now back into autumn, back to school, and with that I have also decided to get back to an autumn activity that I have not done for decades, literally.
I am restarting hockey, something that I haven't done regularly since I was at school. I haven't had a complete 35 years without touching a hockey stick, as I had a couple of dalliances when I worked at DEFRA about 10 years ago, and they were looking for some people to form a team as part of their Civil Service sports day. I stepped forward, and got through it because I could run, rather than because I could remember the rules or had the skill!

Rush Hockey at Lee Valley (aka the Olympic Park, Stratford)
Recently, I have had a hankering to do a team sport and something a bit different from the cycling and running I've been doing all these years.

I wasn't sure which club to try out. If looking purely at geography it would be a toss-up between Tulse Hill and Dulwich club, or Beckenham. However, neither of them train on the astroturf at Crystal Palace which is a stones throw away from me.

The clubs that do are London Gamblers, and London Wayfarers. Gamblers only has two women's teams. Their players are fresh out of university, meaning that the level will be quite high - way to high for my almost inexistent ability.

So that left Wayfarers. They boast of being the biggest club in London. Indeed they have nine women's teams and they do a specific Back-to-Hockey training session. I guess that is a session that I could really benefit from. However, I am not free on the days that they do this, so I am just going to train and play myself into one of their teams - as long as they don't mind! They seem quite cool, even though I was p15s poor at their selection day in August, and during the two Wednesday night sessions that I went to.

What I have done, which I hope will help, is go to the Rush Hockey sessions at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Thursday evenings. I actually found out about it while I was in Lillywhites sports shop at Piccadilly Circus, buying astroturf shoes. A fellow customer who was doing the same, got into conversation with me, and told me about how laid back this mixed hockey session is compared with being in a hockey club and they welcome all abilities.

He was absolutely right. When I went to the session, the guys were keen for me to join in the match they were playing, where I preferred to go to another part of the pitch to practice drills on my own. However, after a bit of coaxing I joined in. A female player passed me the ball and I completely missed, on another occasion I tripped over the ball. I wasn't even sure where to stand! Apparently I was a mid-field player.

But everyone was cool with it, insisting that I was doing fine, and just needed to keep coming back. That actually emboldened me into going after the ball and chasing, and they even deliberately set things up for me so that I could score a goal!

It's quite a contrast to the main club sessions with the Wayfarers where I have very limited opportunities to touch the ball during open play, and I feel so terribly inadequate about being a bit rubbish.

I am determined to stick with it, and I think that between the Wednesday training sessions and the Rush Hockey I will make improvements, and who knows, maybe Wayfarers may even let me out to do a league match one day. And if nothing else, this is a great substitute for boring intervals around a running track. It'll do wonders for my running!

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