Indoor hockey has never been one of the University of St Andrews’ strongest sports, due in part to lack of training time and coaching availability but also to a lack of knowledge about the game. However, every week a team heads to Dundee to take part in the Midland Hockey Union indoor league.
For those who don’t know, indoor hockey on the surface is very similar to outdoor but has a few important differences. It is a 6-a-side game played on a much smaller pitch in a sports hall, with no hitting or lifting.
Perhaps the most significant difference is the use of boards on the sidelines from which the ball can be deflected (like a 7th player) greatly speeding up the game and requiring a much higher level of fitness. This creates a major tactical change from outdoor and our ability to make this transition is perhaps reflected in our results:
Goal difference: -52
I agree this is not an impressive record. But when you lose your opening match 20-0 (albeit to a Dundee Wanderers 1s a team that plays in a European Indoor Hockey League) your aim changes from seeking a win…to keeping the score in single figures…to getting the ball into their half.
In another sport this might prove rather demoralising but not in indoor. We return every year full of hopes only to arrive at a similar fate simply because we enjoy it. We enjoy the challenge of being the underdog and of constantly being pushed to perform without the pressure of expectation.
For example, we played Strathallan and just missed out on the win by 7-6. Although losing such a close game is always frustrating, we showed we are capable of some excellent play. Also, as the team is always a mixture of players from the 4 outdoor teams, often playing together for the first time each week, it’s an opportunity to improve connection within the club.
Indeed, we never go down without a fight and always give the opposition a run for their money (with the exception of Wanderers who do not do close games). Our last game of the season, against Wanderers 3s, is an example of the improvement we have made over the semester. Holding them to 3-3 at half time thanks to some superb attacking play by Siobhan Gill and Emma Cawood we were in a good position.
The game went to the wire with our defence, led by Fiona O’Brien, thwarting many a goal attempt but unfortunately their superior fitness proved too much, leaving the score 4-7.
So, to everyone who has played this season, especially those who had not played indoor before, we fought well and there’s always next year!