Last night I joined a random hockey team for their training session. The club, Kleine Switzerland, is one of the many hockey clubs in our area and their grounds alone contain two water-based astros and three sand astros, plus a few practise pitches. That's a lot of turf in one place.
My introduction to the team wasn't overwhelming. I emailed the club and went to meet the ladies' thirds captain, who seemed to find it hard to believe that anyone from Africa actually played hockey. "Do you play hockey? Have you played nationally? And do you speak South African?" she asked me, brusquely.
Well, I know how to grip a tree branch, does that count? I haven't played nationally, but I was - once upon a time - selected for a reserve national squad and you're the third team so I'm doubting you've ever played nationally either, wench. And as to my national language... we're speaking it honey. Do you speak Netherlands? Ignoramous.
Moving on. I know the Dutch are good at hockey, so I can - to a degree - understand her questioning. Not just good... they're seriously about this sport. Five astros for one club? Clubs around the country vary from 30 to anything up to 70 sides... This sport is BIG. So I was a little nervous about going to play for a random team. I know I can play hockey of a decent level, but I also know that for the last few months I've done nothing but sit on my arse and moan about lack of internet access.
The ladies that I met were all very friendly (the captain wench wasn't there) and they welcomed me into their practice - some even showing a moderation of geographical knowledge, asking intelligent questions like, "Do you speak Afrikaans?" What a relief.
And then the running began. First an intensive indoor-paced game. Then a quick 400m. Then another indoor game. Then another 400m. Then another game followed by a shooting drill. Then another 400m followed by more running interspersed with 40 sit ups and 40 push ups (I cheated, dunno how many I did but it was nowhere near 40 each).
I haven't run that much since my days of varsity athletics. Fortunately, even at my unfittest I was keeping up with the top of the pack so I don't think I embarrassed myself completely - although my beet-red face at the end of it all might have told another story entirely.
So I still don't have a job, but I may have found a hockey club. Life's all about priorities. Now I'm going to get my aching arse back to the comfy couch... my show's about to start on Animal Planet.