Vicki Chi — underwater hockey player, former competitive swimmer, equities portfolio manager and mother — on learning to play a team sport late(r) in life, the unexpected positive consequences of joining a new sport and sharing her sport with her daughter[:zh]VICKI CHI – 水底曲棍球選手，曾參予游泳競賽，現為股票經理並已為人母。 從個人競賽轉戰到團體運動， VICKI與我們分享當中的學習過程， 和與女兒並同參與的愉快經歷。
Vicki Chi is a former competitive swimmer in China and current underwater hockey player, who just competed with Hong Kong at the China Cup in Hangzhou at the end of May. She is a single mother to a 4 year-old daughter — who is also a good swimmer and who joins her at underwater hockey trainings on Saturdays. Vicki arrived in HK in 2014 by way of Netherlands where she had lived since she was 17 years old.
Vicki discovered underwater hockey a year ago and immediately fell in love with the sport. At the time she was looking for a swimming team / association to join in order to improve her swim training. Now, she’s a regular player with the Hong Kong Underwater Hockey Association and her teammates have even gotten her into free diving! Participating in underwater hockey has truly expanded her underwater horizon 🙂 Not only that, when Vicki travels to Netherlands for work, she has since found a team in Haarlem that she can play with, thus expanding her community of friendships.
Vicki enjoys the dynamics of the stock market and always seek new challenges in life. By day, Vicki is an Asia Pacific Equities Portfolio Manager at Robeco Hong Kong, the largest independent asset manager in the Netherlands and part of Tokyo based Orix group. She is a Certified Financial Analyst charter holder with a master degree in international business administration.
How did you first get into underwater hockey? What about the sport led you to keep going back to practices and games?
I came across underwater hockey through meetup.com, when I was trying to find a swimming team to join. Ever since I arrived in HK for work in 2014 I have been
swimming, but last year I wanted to challenge myself more. I fell in love with underwater hockey after the first try. The adrenaline rush during the games gives me such a high! I had never really played a team sport in my life as swimming is a solo sport; underwater hockey is a true team sport and it is awesome to win a game together! I like the aspect of working in a team to work towards a goal, such as trying to win. I wish we can have more frequent trainings than the 1-2 times a week that we have now, and I wish we can get access to better pools than the school pools we rent now.
When you first started to play underwater hockey, what were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
As a former swimmer, I move at ease underwater, can hold my breath for a good while and I am in excellent physical condition. But underwater hockey is so much more than just swimming. Although I had a foundation, I really had to learn a new sport. The key techniques such as being stationary underwater with my lower body on the bottom of the pool and upper body straight up, making turns while protecting the puck, using the various ways to handle the puck with the hockey stick, and flicking the puck etc. requires much training and practice. I also found the aspect of learning how to play as a team challenging as I didn’t have to do this as a solo swimmer, but it is so much fun to learn and to improve and to become a better teammate. I have not perfected my skills with only 1 year of playing underwater hockey, but I have no intention to ever stop playing this sport, so I will keep learning and practicing.
What do you like about water sports versus field sports?
I don’t feel myself sweating…that’s great! And we play with masks and fins…it looks super cool! Most importantly, that sense of freedom when I sink down the pool…absolutely amazing feeling. Maybe that’s why I am also expanding into free diving now, which my teammates introduced me to.
What impact has playing underwater water had on your personal and professional life? What have been some of the biggest takeaways from playing this sport?
I think playing underwater hockey first and foremost gave me a better understanding of myself. It showed me the passion I can have for a sport that I didn’t know I could have. When I travelled back to the Netherlands and played with the team in Haarlem, I saw people playing the game for 30-40 years and are still playing after retirement. That’s the kind of passion I also have for underwater hockey and it is great to love something so fervently. Also it makes me think of group dynamics at a different level beyond any team building session I’ve ever had.
What are you thinking about when you’re swimming underwater and competing / fighting to get to the puck before your opponents?
My instinct is always to go for the puck and push it into the goal…fast! But now I try to think more, use the skills I learnt, apply some tactics, look around when I have the puck… and recognizing that giving it to a team mate may be better than going straight for the goal myself. I’m really learning how to play in a team, and as a teammate. Also when I am playing against highly experienced opponents, I need to deal with my fear. I have only played for one year, so there is that little fear at the back of my mind that always makes me give up too early against a stronger/better player. I need to be strong mentally to perform at my best level. Going to practices and competing gives me more opportunities to learn to become mentally stronger.
You bring your daughter with you to underwater hockey practice. Why do you bring her to practices?
My daughter Alex is 4 years old now. I’ve been taking her to the swimming pool and the beach consistently since she was 6 months old. Now she can thoroughly enjoy the sea and the pool and she loves to join me at underwater hockey training on Saturday mornings. It is so nice to be able to show her what I love and have her support. She tells me: mommy I want to play hockey too … and shows me how good she is at diving. I would say it doesn’t get better than sharing the fun of sports together with the little one.
Underwater hockey is a relatively new sport to Hong Kong and it might seem daunting to many who’ve never tried it before to have to hold one’s breath and swim underwater for long periods of time. What words of advice do you have for someone who might want to try it for the first time?
From what I have seen and my own experience, you either love the sport or you don’t. It usually doesn’t take more than two trainings for one to find out. Anyone who can swim can play this game. Advanced players will hold your hand for your first session and you WILL be playing in the game! If for any reason you don’t like underwater hockey, I’d say go find some sport you do feel passionate about and don’t stop trying new things till you find your passion.
Having said that, many players in our team are not advanced swimmers/divers, but they feel just as passionately about underwater hockey as I do. We’re all playing because we love this game and we are all improving from our current levels. When we play as a team we try to utilize and maximize each of our strength, and that is the beauty of it.
Unlike most other places and unique to Hong Kong, we have more girls than guys in our team…I am so proud to belong to this loving group of awesome people.
For a better idea of what underwater hockey looks like:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSja4D1zuEk&w=560&h=315][:zh] VICKI CHI 過往在中國曾為國家級游泳選手，亦是現役的水底曲棍球港隊成員， 剛在五月底為香港在於杭州舉行的中國盃出戰。 作為單親媽媽的她每周六會帶著四歲同樣擅長游泳的女兒一起集訓。 VICKI 十七歲開始在荷蘭定居，直至2014年來港。
一年前VICKI 開始接觸水底曲棍球，迅即結下不解之緣。 最初她只不過是想找一家泳會繼續習泳； 現在她已經是香港水底曲棍球協會內的活躍份子。 更在隊友介紹下開始接觸自由潛水。 水底曲棍球令她大開水底世界的眼界，而且每當VICKI 到荷蘭出差時，她都會找哈林 Harlem 區的隊友一起練習，擴闊社交圈子，建立友情。
VICKI 享受股票市場為她帶來的刺激，同時亦不斷為生命尋找新的挑戰。 她是 Robeco Hong Kong 的亞太股票經理，該公司為荷蘭最大獨立資產投資管理機構， 亦是以東京作為基地的 Orix Group 其中的子公司。她是特許金融分析師，持有國際工商管理碩士學位。
當時我透過 meetup.com 找泳會練習，意外地找到水底曲棍球。 其實自2014年開始在香港定居以來我一直都有習泳， 不過由去年開始，我想為自己再找新的挑戰。 我對水底曲棍球可謂一見鐘情。 對賽時腎上腺素飆升的感覺令我特別興奮! 以前競泳是個人運動，水底曲棍球是我首項團體運動； 我覺得與隊友一起爭標的感覺超爽的! 我喜歡整隊人一起為共同目標奮鬥。現時我們一星期集訓一至兩次， 我希望可以有更多機會集訓， 而且可以租用比我們現時所用的學校泳池更好的設施。
作為前競泳選手，在水底移動是我的強項，我能長時間在水底閉氣， 而且體能也相當不錯。但是水底曲棍球比競泳要求高很多。 雖然我有不錯的基礎，但其實有很多東西我都要重新學習。 一些重要技巧例如保持下半身在池底但上半身挺直， 而且要在水中維持不動、在保護曲棍球的同時又要轉身、 用不同方式用棍控制曲棍球和用棍剔球等等，都需要長時間訓練。 以往作個人競泳時，我只需要顧及自己的表現； 但水底曲棍球講求團隊精神，當中的學習過程和訓練充滿挑戰性， 而我亦樂在其中。這一年來我還有很多進步空間， 但我沒有打算放棄，我只想繼續學習和訓練。
在水上運動時，我完全感覺不到自己在出汗， 我很喜歡這個無汗的感覺。 而且我覺得戴著潛水鏡和蛙鞋令我看起來十分不錯。更重要的是， 在池中浮沉的無重狀態令我感到十分自由。亦可能因為這個原因， 我開始接觸自由潛水。
我認為水底曲棍球給我的最大得益是令我對自己有更深入的了解。 我以前從來都不知道自己原來可以對運動有這樣的一種熱誠。 當我回到荷蘭跟 Haarlem 的隊友練習時， 我發現他們有些已經玩了三至四十年並會玩到退休為止。 我跟他們分享同樣的熱誠， 能對一項運動有著這樣的熱衷是一件很棒的事。 我過往都有做團體精神的訓練， 但這項運動令我對團體的互動和動態有不同和更深層次的見解。
我的運動本能是搶先控制到球然後快速射向龍門! 但現在我會多思考而且運用所學的技巧，亦會採用不同戰術； 例如當我持球時看一下周圍，傳球給隊友可能比我自己射龍門更好。 我仍在學習如何跟隊友一起作賽，令自己成為更重要一員。 而當跟富有經驗選手對賽時，我要克服自己的恐懼心理。 我還只是玩了一年的初哥，所以在面對更優秀的選手時， 心裡還是有點害怕的。如果我要做出更佳表現， 我必須要有很強的心理狀態。 平時練習和出外比賽都是讓我提升心理質素的好機會。
我女兒Alex 今年四歲。早在她六個月開始，我已經常常帶她到泳池和沙灘。 現在她十分喜歡到這些地方， 亦很喜歡在周六早上跟我去水底曲棍球的訓練。 我很喜歡跟她分享我所熱愛的事並得到她的支持。我告訴我, “媽媽我也想玩水底曲棍球。” 還跟我展示她潛水的厲害。 我敢說沒有其他東西比得上跟自己的孩子分享體育的樂趣。
水底曲棍球在香港鮮為人知，對於門外漢來說， 在水中長時間閉氣運動可以是十分可怕的事。對於有興趣的初學者， 你的建議會是甚麼?
根據我過往經驗，一個人是否喜歡某項運動是一件很主觀的事。 要是該運動是適合某人的話，只要一兩次練習就會隨即愛上了。 能游泳的人都能玩水底曲棍球。 第一次參與時會有資深選手拖著你的手，而你亦會開始對賽。 如果你不喜歡水底曲棍球， 那麼我建議你去探索一下自己對甚麼其他運動有興趣直至找到自己熱 愛的運動為止。
話雖如此，隊中很多隊友都不是資深泳手和潛水員， 但他們對運動的熱誠跟我不相伯仲。我們之所以能成為隊友， 是因為大家有共同喜好而且我們的目標都是要超越自己。 我們整隊人一起出賽，利用每個人的優點去互相幫忙爭標， 我覺得這就是團體運動的優點。
水底曲棍球是男女混合運動，世界各地普遍是男多女少； 但香港獨特之處是女多男少，他們都是一群超好的朋友， 我對此引以為榮。
Translated by Nickie Wong email@example.com