I grew up in a sports driven family. My three older brothers have national and international experience in numerous sports. Therefore, it was a natural progression for me to follow in their footsteps. I absolutely love sports, and I have played many over the years: figure skating, field hockey, roller hockey, track, cross country, triathlons, duathlons, netball (it’s a Southern Hemisphere thing), and finally I chose to focus on ice hockey.
Yeah, growing up playing ice hockey in South Africa isn’t a really easy thing to do, but I pursued it, my parents drove me many, many miles back and forth to the rink, and across the country for tournaments.
However, the one blatantly obvious thing, back in the early 90’s, was that I was a GIRL, wanting to play a boy’s game. I was told this more than once: you can’t play (ice) hockey, that’s for boys, you can’t play a full contact boy sport.
Nonetheless, I played and I loved it. At the time I had no idea I was standing in the face of oppression. To me, I was just doing what I wanted to, and that was easy for me. I know I had a solid base of support even if my mother was initially terrified of me playing the game.
While I realize how much women have fought for their rights to play the sports of their choosing, I was fortunate to never feel that I didn’t belong doing what I wanted to do. Sure, there were some who laughed at me or ridiculed me, but that only gave me more desire to do what I was doing.
This is how I want to raise my daughter. I want her to play what she wants to play and I want her to play it like herself! I want and need her to realize that she truly can do whatever she wants, and I will be her fierce supporter ensuring she never feels she doesn’t belong or shouldn’t be following her dreams, be that in hockey, rock climbing, or ballet – the world is hers to explore.