Derby in Translation

I have been living in Finland for just over one year now. And although I’m not entirely homesick yet, I do find myself from time to time thinking about my derby life in Australia. The problem is, it feels like a lifetime ago, and while I have a lot of the same things here, it’s just not the same.

I realise that a lot of the time that I was skating in Australia, I was a newbie and had only just started bouting. Not to mention the raw and fresh meat training. Yes, correct ladies and gents. We first have raw meat, which is learning basic skills. When you pass raw meat, you move on to fresh meat. After you pass the minimum skills test, you are inducted into the league. At first, it’s intimidating, and it’s almost as if you’re thrown into the deep end. You have no idea what you are doing, or how you’re supposed to do it. But your trainers and refs get you through. It’s frustrating, overwhelming and yet it’s still the thing that you count down the hours, minutes and seconds for. Though in Adelaide, it’s not a given that you will be able to join a league. You have to earn your place.

I joined the league as they began their home team season. Being a small league, there were only two teams, The Dames of Hazard and The Vigilantes. I felt very strongly about which team I wanted to be chosen for. I worked hard in training, and in my own time. Did you know? That in my city, you could pay $5 to a recreation centre, and get free use of an indoor basketball court. You may even have three courts, all to yourself, if you’re lucky. This is where I did a lot of my own work. I practiced my good side, my bad side, turning toe stops, weaving, carving, even endurance. I did all the things that I didn’t want to do in front of others. I worked my ass off until I didn’t struggle anymore. During fresh meat tests and training I would go 5 times a week. Unfortunately in Finland, I’ve noticed, not a lot of people want to help out with venues, especially if it has nothing to do with volleyball or floorball. What even is that anyway?
So I worked and worked. And my wish came true. I was chosen to be a Vigilante. 

Oh yeah, that hard work that I was talking about before, that was nothing compared to what was to come. Vigi training was intense. There was no standing around, no talking; Vigi business was serious business. We worked on drills, and a lot of them. We talked strategy and solidified our walls. I feel that one of the main reasons that the Vigi’s won time after time, is because of the preparation we did. We won because we earned it.

Derby in Finland is just different. The Vigi’s weren’t big on hitting people. We blocked and our walls were impenetrable. We built a fortress on the track. I find that I am almost always hurt or injured here. Perhaps I’m just a little wussy girl, or maybe, just maybe, the game is more physical. I don’t enjoy hitting people. But I do enjoy getting in someone’s way and holding them behind me until their blocker has to rescue them, either that or knocking them out and recycling them over and over again.

I know that English is a confusing language, most of it doesn’t make sense, but Finnish, I’m afraid to say, is far far worse. Between the millions of different forms for each word to the fact that nobody actually speaks as they should write, I can’t always figure out what’s being said. It feels overwhelmingly impossible at times. I feel as though I’m always on the outer. And even when I try to include myself on the rare chance that I’m feeling particularly outgoing, I find it hard to actively keep myself involved. People forget that I speak English, and I don’t blame them, especially when I rarely actually talk. However, it complicates things more. I don’t really know exactly what it is I’m supposed to do in training, what the exact idea of the drill is, goals for games, strategies in a line up, focus points, team events, outings, gatherings, details, the list will go on and on. The Vigi’s were like a second family to me, I guess in a way I’m still searching for that here.

My point is, that while Finland is my home now, it’s not like Australia; it’s going to take some getting used to. Luckily for me, I have this wonderful derby cult like thing to help me out.

// Käsi