This issue is becoming known worldwide – “Quebec Soccer Federation bans Sikhs from wearing turbans in soccer.” This ban effectively stops many children and adults from playing soccer in the Province of Quebec. The Quebec Soccer Federation says that the reason for the ban is a safety issue. Sikhs are outraged and I don’t blame them, they bloody well should be. Safety issue, what safety issue? The safety issue has not really been explained. Maybe while a player is running the turban will unwrap and fall off the players head temporarily blinding their opponent! Do you detect sarcasm here? The whole issue baffles me. Pauline Marois, Quebec Premier, has now come out backing the Quebec Soccer Fedration on the turban ban even though the Canadian Soccer Association has come out against the ban. Pauline says that she supports the QSF ban and doesn’t feel that the QSF should have to answer to any Canadian governing board. Of course, she is Parti Quebecois and her statement couldn’t be any more separatist in nature. Sikhs say this goes against their Religious freedom as turbans are part of practicing their faith. I don’t completely understand the correlation between the turban and the Sikh faith; but it should not be an issue. The QSF has not given any rational reason as to why they are banning turbans so I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s prejudice based. I was born in Quebec and what people don’t realize is just how tense that Province can be. I am not bilingual and I was raised in an English family, living in an English neighbourhood. Tension between French and English has always been strong evidenced by Referendums, bombs in mailboxes, Separatism and Rene Levesque. A distinct society makes Quebec unique and gives government powers that are not seen elsewhere in Canada. In 1976 laws were passed (Bill 101) to ensure that French was the official language of Quebec making it unlawful to have English on billboards, in commercial establishments and with this Bill the sign police were established. If you owned a business and you advertised in English the sign police could administer fines and eventually shut you down if you refused to comply. I knew of a business that had signs saying “welcome” in all languages, not just French or English and the sign police made the owner take all the signs down except for the bienvenue sign of course. English education was restricted to children who were already being schooled in English as well as their siblings. The writing was on the wall, if you were English there was no future for you in Quebec. My Step Father got a job transfer out West and my parents moved us out of Quebec. My mother was born and brought up in Quebec and loved the Province but she loved her children more and wanted us raised in a Province where we had a future. Once while flying home from back east I had the pleasure of sitting beside a French Canadian. We had a conversation about the English and French in Quebec and he said to me flat out that he was a manager in the hotel industry in Montreal and when they received resumes of people with English names the resumes were thrown into the waste basket. So back to the turban ban, is it any wonder that this is happening in Quebec? I think the Sikhs are erroneous in their assumption that this is about their Religious beliefs; it’s more likely that when one wears a turban they just don’t look French. Maybe if they wrote bienvenue on their turbaned head the turbans would be welcomed. All Canadian’s message to the QSF and Parti Quebecois’ Pauline Marois should be – keep your politics out of children’s play and let them play their beloved sport!
I thought it was about time for another post about my experiences with my hockey team. As I mentioned before, I joined a women’s hockey team this year; I’ve never played hockey and I haven’t skated since I was a youngster. When I first joined this team I didn’t know what to expect and I was nervous playing for the first time. I find most of the women on our team fairly accepting of a newbie but just as starting a new job or being in a social situation where you don’t know anyone, some aren’t so accepting. Frankly, I’m there to play hockey and whether these women like me or not is of no consequence to me. I’m learning and I’m improving every game, my skating is getting stronger and I’m not afraid to go after the puck – sounds easy, going after the puck, but when a 6’4 woman is on the opposite end of that puck – not so easy. I’ve been run down and shoved around more than a few times. You are absolutely right in what you are thinking – doesn’t sound like a place to get some me time, but for some reason when I’m chasing after that puck and fighting for the puck to stay out of our end – I lose all sense of where I am, I don’t think about anything, work, kids, husband, bills absolutely nothing except getting that bloody puck. I’m somewhat surprised how much I enjoy it and it was my son who put it into perspective for me. Before I joined this team, at dinner one night I was talking to my husband and the boys about why I shouldn’t commit to this hockey team and I was using all the excuses that busy mothers use – I don’t have time, I have housework, dinner to cook, laundry to do and I hardly get any time to myself so maybe I should use the time I would be playing hockey to sit down, relax and have a cup of tea! Brendan (my twelve year old and always philosophical) says “you can do that when you’re eighty!” I have to admit – that hit a nerve with me. I’ve never played any sport and as a child wanted to join something but there were issues with my parents that made playing sports impossible(long story – another blog). I sat there for a minute and thought, “he’s right, why not right now!”
It’s certainly not a glamour world this world of hockey. Let’s just say most of the woman are very natural – no makeup, jewellery, come-as you-are type of woman. If you think that men are the aggressors when it comes to sports think again. A couple of weeks ago we were playing lady sharks (yep – the name of the team – and sharks they can be) a group of extremely aggressive women. Our team consists mostly of beginners with a few more experienced players so I guess you can say we don’t make the cut! We never win and we’re just happy if the score is not 15 – 1. So these lady sharks come along and they play really hard and really aggressive, they hit and whack their way to goals. Not really necessary since we’re not a very good team. It’s nothing personal – it’s hockey. At the game a couple of weeks ago against lady sharks, one lady shark in particular was skating around the ice and hacking our team with her stick on the back of our legs. Back of the legs are exposed as you don’t have any padding there. She hit one woman from our team at least three times – the fourth time lady from our team yells at the lady shark – “excuse me, but what the hell are you doing?” Lady shark says “it was an accident!” “Bullshit” lady from our team says – “an accident happens once not four times, if it was an accident apologize.” Lady shark refuses to apologize, because that’s what lady sharks do, so our little lady shoves lady shark and lady shark shoves back. I thought I was going to witness a full-out fight when all of a sudden our little lady skates to our bench and gets her composure back and in a very calm voice says “sorry about that ladies but that woman made me very mad.” That was the first time I thought of my boys during that game. The boys get into silly fights all the time – you apologize, no you apologize, you did it not me and then they start shoving!
This year I joined a women’s hockey league. I’ve never played a sport in my life and I haven’t skated since I was 8 years old. Quite the challenge and with my hearing impairment it’s even more of a challenge. My very first hockey game I had butterflies in my stomach like I was about to go out on stage for a performance. I got to the rink and met all the girls and they all looked like pros to me. I wasn’t the only beginner there was another girl on the team who had never skated in her life. The beginners were put in the position of winger as it’s an easier position to play. I get out on the ice for my shift I had no idea where to stand or what I was supposed to do. Everyone was yelling orders at me – go here, stand here, that’s my check not yours, don’t go beyond this line, stay on this side and don’t even get me started about offside! I managed to skate, I didn’t fall down which was a complete amazement to me. I quickly started to notice that quite a few of the woman on the other team were huge. They looked like they were 6’5, they appeared to be giants. I’m not sure what I was thinking but a woman from the other team was coming down the ice on my side and I decided I was going to take the puck from her. I skated right at her and tried to take the puck. Well she just kept skating, never even broke her stride – she skated right through me. I did this wild imbalance thing, couldn’t hold it, went down backwards flat on my back and found myself lying there looking at the ceiling. I was somewhat stunned, but I got up and went right after the puck. It wasn’t until I got off the ice that I realized both my arm and head were sore. I was fine and the girls were all saying, “good job”, “way to go”. I’m thinking, good job, what was I thinking, I’ve just been run over by a train! I’m slowly getting a little better, I’m hitting more pucks and last week I found myself in front of the net and I actually blocked a shot. I have no idea how I got in front of the net and I have no idea how I blocked that shot. My hearing impairment has been embarrassing as I can’t hear the ref’s whistle and I can’t seem to get offside. I’m always standing on the wrong side of the line and quite often I have my head down. The refs have all been told about my hearing impairment so they let it go when I don’t get out-of-the-way in an instant. The girls on my team are starting to think, maybe this deaf chick is a blessing, she doesn’t get penalties for offside! A couple of weeks ago I found myself in the offside position, I was skating along with my head down and all of a sudden I heard this roar. When I looked up the women from the other team were all skating at me shouting “GET OUT, GET OUT”. For a minute I felt like I was in an Amityville horror movie – GET OUT, GET OUT. I still didn’t get why they were screaming at me and I looked at the ref and I thought he pointed at me so I looked at him and mouthed “who me” all while I was still standing on the wrong side of the line. Needless to say the other team went nuts and I skated like hell out of there because, quite frankly, I was scared for my life. Once out-of-the-way, I realized that I was offside – talk about clueless, not my best moment! I didn’t get a penalty and I could tell the women from the other team were furious. I got to the bench and I said to the girls, “that’s a shift I’d rather forget”. That game I did accomplish quite a bit, I managed the puck in my end quite well and I even managed a pass to our forward! This may not sound like much, but for someone who can barely skate – it’s huge! None of that mattered to me on the way home, all I could hear was “GET OUT, GET OUT” and I kept seeing the look on the ref’s face when I mouthed “who me”. I thought I’m quitting, can’t do this. The next day I said to my husband that I was quitting, told him what happened and he said “who cares, keep going, focus on the positive”. As the week progressed I thought more and more of the positive and less and less about the “GET OUT”. I played the next week and I did much better, kept my head up and I manged to get out, a little late, but I managed to get out of the other end when offside was called without the other team yelling “GET OUT”.