Becoming a professional athlete takes lots of practice and dedication and is not always just fun and games. With the 2022 Women’s FIH Hockey Junior World Cup taking place next month, the under 21 female hockey elite is currently in an intense training period. What sacrifices are necessary for success in hockey?
20-year-old goalkeeper Chiara Lee Vischer has been playing hockey for half her life now, currently practicing with Kampong Dames 1 in Utrecht and preparing to play in the World Cup for the German national team. For her the biggest sacrifice she makes is time. “It’s a lot of training and a lot of things that come second when hockey always comes first.“ This interferes with many parts of her life, for example scheduling her studies or keeping up with friends.
The Covid-19 pandemic complicated things even further, as an infection is a big risk in sports. It can not only endanger the individual health and career of a player, but the performance of the team as a whole. So the professionals have to follow tight restrictions.
Carlijn Tukker, teammate of Chiara at Kampong Dames and national player for the Dutch team, puts it like this: “Now with Covid there are strict rules; living apart from friends and keeping our distance. But also in weekends we have to sacrifice a lot like not going out on Saturday or Sunday or always being busy with your sport.“
Chiara felt her sport affecting her social life too, especially while she was still in school.“In school it was really difficult because my friends didn’t really understand why I don’t have time for them. They don’t understand that it’s just not possible to cancel the training, also not just one time. It doesn’t work like that if your a professional sportsgirl.“
But in the end, the rewards for the sport outweigh the downsides by far, both athletes emphasize.Traveling the world, winning competitions and just making memories are reasons, but most passionately they speak about their close knit teams. „My whole life is hockey. So my teammates are my best friends, my club is my second family. Other people maybe go to the cinema with their friends, I am playing hockey with my friends“, Chiara points out.
And, not to forget, Carlijn names a simple but essential motivation probably all elite athletes share: „I just love the sports.“