It really doesn’t surprise me that there won’t be any street hockey matches for the 2009 Islamic Games in New Jersey. What can I say, most Muslims just don’t seem to play hockey at all. This is something I’ve been noticing all of my life. Whenever I go to my cousins’ house, they’re up for playing either basketball, soccer, football, and of course, cricket. Others are into baseball. Or tennis. Or badminton. Or volleyball. But hockey? Forget about it.
I’m one of the coordinators for my Mosque’s Youth Club and we usually play basketball every Sunday because that’s what most of the kids want to play. I always join in even though my shot accuracy is terrible, lol. I’ll play just about any sport, even if I’m not very good at it, but roller hockey is my favorite sport. I remember the look on one of the Youth coordinator’s face when my Muslim friend and I told him that we were going to play hockey after Jummah prayer. It was one of those looks that your fellow Muslim brother/sister gives you before telling you something is haram. But he didn’t say it was haram, alhamdullilah lol :)
I Love roller hockey. I Love skating around and turning; I Love stick-handling, passing, and deking out the goalie. The fast pace of the game is just so much fun. In my feeble attempts to attract my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters to hockey, I tell them it’s not that different from soccer! You know, instead of kicking a ball into a net, you’re hitting it with a stick. And you’re on roller blades. Okay, maybe they’re not completely alike, but it’s still a fun sport!
Anyway, my friends and I used to play roller hockey almost every single day when we were in high school. After we’d get home from school, we would go out to the tennis court and play hockey. About two months ago, we started to play hockey again after about three or four years! Now, we play at least two times a week. It’s really great to be playing again, especially when I’m playing with my friends. We don’t play a rough game — we never have — because we know we would like to wake up the next morning with our arms and legs intact. I never played ice hockey, even though I’ve ice skated a lot before. My brother played for a league and it was quite physical, which is one of the reasons I didn’t want to play it. I always like to joke that I’m better than my brother, but in all honesty, he’s extremely talented, masha’Allah. He led his league in points and goals, and he scored the game-winning goal to win his team the championship.
As for the NHL, some of my friends are still really into it, but I can’t get into it anymore. None of my favorite players are playing anymore. Even my playing style today still has influences of Eric Lindros and John Leclair, who were both my favorite players. Recently, however, my brother told me about this fellow playing for the Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin. I heard people talking about him so much that I finally decided to look him up on YouTube. And wow, I think I’m going to start watching NHL games just to see him play. Watch the video above and check out the goal he scores at 2:36. It’s insane! It actually reminds me of one of my “memorable” hockey moments, lol.
Ok, true story. I played for a roller hockey league back in high school. My dad, with his Pakistani mustache, was our team’s coach believe it or not, and my brother and I played on the same line together. We won two championships, which my dad likes to attribute to himself. “See what happens when you listen to me,” he says (and still says). Anyway, so it was a tie game and it was taking forever for either team to score. I believe it was in the third period, but our team shot the ball down in the other team’s end. I started to skate really fast towards the ball, which was on the far right side of the net. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, lol. There was no angle at the net at all, and yet I was charging for the ball. As I got closer, I was just like, “oh God, this is going to suck.” Because I knew I was going to wipe out since I’m horrible at stopping when I’m going that fast! So, since I figured I was going to fall to the ground, I decided I was just going to shoot the ball towards the net. Here goes: 3, 2, 1…
WACK! I took a swing at the ball, cinematically flew to the ground, and slammed into the boards. Yep, I made myself look like an idiot. As my teammate came to help me get to my feet, he had this amazed look on his face. And in his suburban accent, he was like, “Awh man, that was an awesome goal! That was sick!” I was just like, huh?! It went in?! But how?! I had like no angle at all! Apparently I did! I admit though, I got lucky with that one. I think my shot accuracy is pretty darn good, but hey, not that good! So yeah, Ovechkin’s goal reminded me of that.
Anyway, it doesn’t bother me that there aren’t any street hockey tournaments at the Islamic Games, it just makes me wonder if Muslim interests in basketball and soccer are socialized. It’s not just Muslims, I’ve also noticed non-Muslim Middle-Easterners and South Asians who are into basketball and soccer too, but I never see them playing hockey. Maybe it’s cultural? Or maybe if I go to Canada, I’ll see more Muslims into hockey (I was in Canada recently, but not long enough to see whether or not Muslims play hockey).
Oh well, I’m still excited about the Islamic Games. I’m excited about being a coach. I’ll wear my suit and tie and yell from the sidelines like Al Pacino :P