It’s a Thursday night, and I’m playing hockey on the roof of a multi-story car park.
To understand how I got here, you have to know that I declared 2013 “the Year of the Dragon.”
You see, that was an impulsive thing.
One day I was taking part in a corporate team building dragon boat racing event — for a company I didn’t even work for, the next I was finding and joining a dragon boat club in London.
I was lucky. The team I joined trained at a regatta a short walking distance from my flat in Docklands, and I quickly warmed to the team sport culture of training together then drinking together.
An equally impulsive adventure goal was set: I would compete with the team in an international event before the end of the year. Within weeks, I was racing in a dragon boat, competing to the steady beat of a drum against other teams from around the UK.
But it wasn’t an international event. And, I didn’t ever meet that goal. But that was OK, because I did make friends and did enjoy training and competing. You can read various posts about it on here.
It was also my impulsive behaviour that had me sign up for the Inca trail, and my Arctic adventure, and abseiling down the side of Australia’s tallest building. At least with the year of the dragon I had tried it before I joined a team.
Not so with Perth’s street roller hockey league.
Although I have some friends that played, a desire to join in myself wasn’t something that had crossed my mind. One day, an impulse came on me to write a feature article about the sport and the league. Even then, my interest was entirely journalistic.
I talked to friends, I talked to the league’s founder and commissioner, I was introduced to people and made new friends. I went to a game, took photos, and drank a beer with my friends and their team mates.
It was probably about then that I started thinking about playing. “But I can’t skate!” I’d tell people, and I’d be told in reply “there’s no ‘can’t skate’ — only people who have never skated, and people who can skate.”
There was two possible options. The way I saw it, I could buy skates, and spend a few months practicing, or I could find a team, get some skates, and then learn to play.
I was encouraged to do the latter. My impulsive, thrill-seeking, lizard brain approved of this course of action.
Yokine Drugs n’ Crime
I was invited to join a team from Perth’s suburb of Yokine (Yokine Drugs n’ Crime, named after the Aussie hip hop song of the same name) and when I went to watch them play, unprompted I was lent a pair of skates and a stick, and spent time skating about, practicing skating with a hockey stick, and passing the puck back and forth with other players.
Perth’s SRHL is unique in Australia — there’s no other street roller hockey league like it in the country, and it’s already spawned a spin-off league in London. But one of the most important differences between this league and other sports is the emphasis on just having a go. If you fall over and miss a goal, nobody minds — and it’s frowned upon to be too competitive.
It’s incredibly welcoming, as I’ve found, and you can go from never having skated to playing for your team in the space of about a week.
That’s definitely a good thing if you’re impulsive.