When Mr Gran Canaria Local’s quizzed by Canarians about which British sport’s the most dangerous, everybody’s surprised when he doesn’t reply rugby. And whilst it’s true that he went off playing with an oval ball after somebody tried to use his head for a conversion, his answer will always be hockey. He’ll never forget the warlike wielding of sticks at the Nottingham comprehensive he went to, and was reluctant to risk playing a game in which one of the key items of equipment could double as a weapon.
25 years on, Mr GCL’s a little less nervous when he comes to be in the vicinity of a hockey field. He’s at the Campo Gran Canaria to watch Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s UD Taburiente take on Madrid’s SPV. It’s a mid-table clash in the División de Honor Femenina, the elite league of the woman’s hockey game in Spain.
He’s been invited by one of UD Taburiente’s six registered overseas players, Alexandra Ochsendorf. Given the high standard she plays at, hockey’s clearly more than a hobby for Alexandra who hails from Amsterdam. However, she has a second job in that she’s also a destination marketeer for Verkeersbureaus.info.
UD Taburiente play their home games, which are free to watch, in the shadow of UD Las Palmas‘ Estadio Gran Canaria and the Gran Canaria Arena. Their Atlantic-blue astroturf pitch lies due north of Las Palmas Atlético’s ground. Who, at the same time as the UD Taburiente-SPV game, are hosting Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid Castilla. Here are three other things we learn on a Las Palmas de Gran Canaria super sporting Sunday.
- Hockey’s more skilful than we remember
- A hockey ball’s just as deadly as a stick
- What a UD Taburiente female hockey player wears below
1. Hockey’s more skilful than we remember
From the moment we set eyes on Alex, who plays up front for UD Taburiente, we’re mesmerized by her intelligent running. She’s an all-action gal, stretching the SPV defence by moving from left to right. And back again.
In Mr Gran Canaria Local’s school, the best hockey players were the ones who could welly the ball furthest. But, the UD Taburiente women caress the ball with their sticks. They favour a tiki-taka approach over a long-ball game.
2. A hockey ball’s just as deadly as a stick
When Mr Gran Canaria Local was a mere slip of a lad, he went to see Leicestershire take on his local cricket club in a charity game. During which he made the mistake of trying to catch a ball hit for six by then England captain David Gower. DG might have been known for his elegant strokes but the cricket ball’s notoriously hard and it bent Master GCL’s hands right back.
The hockey ball’s similarly lethal. When facing a short (penalty) corner, the defending team’s player will don a protective mask which is cast away after the ball’s cleared. And our Alex leaves the game away with a badly-bruised thigh featuring the imprint of one of the match balls.
3. What a UD Taburiente female hockey player wears below
When Mr Gran Canaria Local videoed folk dancers at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Pueblo Canario, he made the mistake of assuming the guys were wearing skirts. They weren’t. Instead they were sporting shorts seemingly disguised to look like skirts.
Mr GCL’s just as confused when it comes to the choice of lower-half cover favoured by female hockey players. Are they shorts or skirts? Later, Alex will clear up the confusion by revealing they are skirts worn over shorts. Now, that never happened in Mr Gran Canaria Local’s day.