Inline Hockey is a sport which is slowly gaining popularity in the UK. Inline Hockey is played the same as Ice Hockey except it is played wearing roller blades and obviously not on ice. Here’s a short interview with Karl Niamatali, GB Player, about the sport.
How did you get involved in the sport? And how long have you been playing?
I got involved in the sport when I always saw groups of kids playing the sport at the back of my house by Kwik save loading bay. At first my mum was reluctant to by the expensive equipment because she knew how I was with sport and how often I changed my mind so my brother and I had to make do with what we had. I had a pair of quad roller skates and an old wooden walking stick and my brother had a cheap pair of inline skates and a grass hockey stick. Once my mum realised I was sticking to this random sport she happily bought me the basic kit required and I never looked back.
What keeps you motivated to play a sport which gets no real coverage or funding?
I guess I just want to keep improving myself and help the team I play for win. The chance to represent your country as well is a huge motivation as there is no better feeling really than putting the jersey on for a big international game.
How do you prepare for Inline Hockey, including both the technical training sessions and the weight room work?
My preparation for the sport itself is limited, for example I can only really train Wednesday and Friday nights and that would be on a sports hall and not a purpose built rink. In a ideal world I would love to be able to train 4-5 times a week. The advantage I do have though is the gym I joined nearly 2 years ago, Strength and Performance in Stockport. From the moment I stepped in the gym I realised the years before in the gym counted for nothing and that this was the place to go to and get educated on how I should be using my time in the weight room. I do a mixture of power work including lots of jump and throw variations. This is then followed up by total body strength work. I do lots of tempo and high rep medicine ball work, as well as using sledgehammers, ropes and sandbags, and of course lots of bodyweight exercises. No gimmicks in this gym, just hard work.
What is your next goal in the sport? Do you have any competitions coming up?
My next tournament will be at the end of the November when I go to Paris to play in the Champions Cup. The big goal is to make team GB again and get back into pool A for the World Championships next year.
When you play in the world championships, you play against athletes who play this as a career, what is this like?
Playing in the Championships means you do come up against players that do get paid to play the sport in their own or other countries, you also come up against a lot of pro ice hockey players including some from the NHL. Playing against players from the pro ice leagues is great as I want to challenge myself every time I step onto a rink to be the best I can be, and there is no one better to test yourself against than them. When I reflect on tournaments like these it does get me down knowing many of them guys will go back to playing hockey for a living where as I will go back to my night shifts in a call centre.
What would you like to see happen in the sport over the next few years?
In the next few years I would like to see a Governing Body put together in the sport which would help the sport get funding from the Government. In addition to this it would raise the profile and awareness of the sport as many do not even know it exists. I really think with a proper set up our players would reach great heights.
Thanks very much to Karl for doing this short interview, but I hope a few can take home the message no matter how big or small your sport is, the love and dedication for the sport always shines through.
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