Hockey Family

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Hockey Family in Action

The Hockey Family is renowned for the warmth it generates and its abilities to bring together people of many different nations, ethnic origins, cultures and religions. Most Masters Hockey participants know it, feel it at tournaments and recognise that it creates bonds and friendships that last for decades. However, it has the capabilities which amaze and surprise.

A particular example, which I will now describe, took place in Terrassa during the 2018 World Cup. It was brought to the attention of tournament officials that some players in an Argentine team were wearing tops or stickers on their sticks and kit which were very anti-British. The officials felt the need to take action to avoid creating unpleasantness and / or perhaps angry confrontations.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that at the centre of the stickers etc., was an Argentine goalkeeper, who had served in the Argentine armed forces and survived the Falklands War / Malvinas Conflict. His name is Juan Carlos Marino, a normal family man with children and grandchildren. However, the insanity of war had left its mark on him and Juan Carlos suffered post-traumatic stress for many years and struggled to fit back into civilian life. His wife and friends had supported him, but the nightmares remained.

He had been a semi-professional football player and loved sport. His friends introduced him to hockey and Juan Carlos found that he really enjoyed the sport which seemed to be a release mechanism for his stress. He also turned out to be a very good goalkeeper and was selected to play for Argentina in Terrassa!

Juan Carlos was very proud of the fact that he could represent his country in peace instead of war. Some of his team mates, aware of his stress issues, supported him by wearing the stickers in solidarity. After a brief discussion, the team managers and players agreed to remove the stickers and no official action was taken. Thinking that was the end of it, the officials were surprised when early next day, the Argentine team management excitedly described what had happened the previous evening.

As fate would have it, one of the Welsh teams was staying in the very same hotel. One of the Welsh lads had been involved in the conflict on the British side. The 2 men were introduced and over a number of beers, talked about their ‘shared’ experiences. They recognised that they were normal human beings who bore no malice to others, but found themselves in a situation they could not control, where they had to follow orders and do things that ordinary, decent human beings do not wish to do – try to kill other human beings.

The chats and the beers over several evenings and the Masters Hockey environment lifted the weight from both their shoulders and allowed them to begin to move on from the trauma of war. They knew in their hearts that they were good people who had a bad experience they would not wish to repeat. For Juan Carlos, it was something of a revelation and in his own words it ‘filled my soul to be next to one who had been my enemy in war and who today was my soul friend’.

Juan Carlos believes that Masters Hockey helped him achieve what he could not achieve alone and he thanks everyone, ‘for filling his heart with so much joy’ and his Argentine team mates for having persuaded him to take up Masters Hockey. Our sport had helped him move further along the road towards being the man he was before the conflict!

Juan Carlos was very happy to have his name and details mentioned. His Welsh soul mate preferred to remain anonymous and we have honoured these wishes. However, this story is worth telling because it is a fantastic example of how the human spirit can rebuild itself, even in its darkest moments.We can all take pride in the fact that a Masters Hockey event was the key that opened the door to allow two of our players to escape the darkness described. We all created the Masters Hockey Family by promoting an atmosphere which is inclusive, friendly, competitive in a healthy way and respectful of all, no matter who they are, where they come from, their skin colour or religious beliefs!

A World Hockey First

February 20, 2019

Not only was Australia well represented with a strong contingent of teams and officials at the 2019 WMH Indoor World Cup in Hong Kong, but in an FIH world first, father and daughter Ian and Caitlyn Smith officiated at the same World Cup. 

At just 17 Years of age Caitlyn easily fitted into the women’s umpiring panel, absorbing advice and experience from former Olympics and Commonwealth games umpires who joined her on the panel.  Such was her excellent performances over the course of the World Cup, Caitlyn was appointed to umpire the over 45+ Women’s gold medal final with Alison Banks, also from Australia, and received numerous accolades for her achievement.  Not to be outdone, in the following match, the Men’s 50+ Gold medal final, dad Ian Smith officiated with England umpire Pritpal Sihota.  The jury is still out on who did the better job, Caitlyn or Ian.

In a sport that is played in over 200 countries world-wide, Masters hockey continues to show the connection of family in a way that other sports can only aspire to.

Thanks to Hockey Australia Masters for the story

Masters Hockey Supporters

Since 2002, I have attended many Masters Hockey tournaments, supporting my partner as he represented his country year after year. Hong Kong, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Barcelona, along with numerous others have all been ticked off the bucket list and who knows where else Masters Hockey travels will take us in the future.

It is a wonderful way to see the world, experience other cultures and, of course, meet a wide range of interesting people. I have lost count of the number of people I have met at all these events and it is really heart-warming to meet up with other supporters – some who are now ‘old’ friends, and those you meet for the very first time and hope to meet at the next tournament.

We chat, catching up on where we left off last time around. Share stories about new babies or grandchildren, family weddings or new jobs. It is amazing how much you remember about others’ families, even if it has been 2 or 3 years since the last meet up! The problem is remembering everything that has happened in your own family and getting events in the right order – it is definitely an age thing!

I have shared bottles of Prosecco in Canberra, wine in Newcastle (Australia) and sometimes shared sightseeing trips. The Botanic Gardens in Singapore was one of my favourite trips, as was the miniature village of  Madurodam in Den Haag (Netherlands).

I have watched hockey in the blistering heat of Barcelona, been blasted by icy winds and driving snow in Lille (France) and been soaked to the skin in a torrential downpour in Kuala Lumpur – but at least it was warm rain and I was dry again 5 minutes after the storm had passed! My hair was a bit of a mess though!

As you can recognise, Masters Hockey supporters need to be as organised about their ‘kit’ as the players. Essential items: sandals; sunhat; sunglasses; a full set of lightweight waterproofs; at least 2 fleeces and an umbrella – the bigger the better!

During the pandemic I have missed my Hockey Family and I can’t wait to meet up with them again at a 2022 World Cup! Bring it on!

World Masters Hockey