Following is part of a series of articles highlighting ways that expats and Koreans form communities through sport. To comment or to suggest story ideas, e-mail email@example.com -- Ed.
What: Ball hockey
When: Sundays Sept.-Dec./Feb.-June
How much: 140,000-160,000 won
Contact: visit www.cbhk.org
Anywhere Canadians go, ball hockey follows.
It’s actually surprising that Korea, long a magnet for Canadian English teachers, went as long as it did without an organized ball hockey league. What’s a Canadian to do?
Canada Ball Hockey Korea filled that void when it began league operations several years ago. With an official mandate to “enhance the lives of Canadians living in the Republic of South Korea by the provision of a sports and recreation networking platform,” the league offers over 120 players a strong sense of community.
But it’s not only Canadians that take part. According to player Matthew Graveline, there are people from several countries, including Korea.
“I wanted to get involved in the expat community and this league really allows me to get connected to the diversity of the expat community. It also lets me have a great Sunday in a Western environment where I can feel back at home. Not to mention that it is great exercise, a great bonding experience and an incredibly competitive league that anyone can get into,” said Graveline, a 25-year-old high school teacher in Ilsan.
Membership in CBHK costs 120,000 won for the fall season and 140,000 won for summer. There are eight teams that meet every Sunday.
Graveline said playing ball hockey allows him to get back on his childhood roots and feel a sense of belonging. He emphasized the physicality of the sport, saying he feels great after getting some exercise. “I feel great. I feel like I got some great exercise. I got to chat with a great group of guys and girls and it makes me forget I am not away from home for a second. I also get rid of a lot of my stress and tension from the week.”
Several players touted the league’s sense of community, saying sport helps expats and boosts morale.
“It would get them connected to a community and it would help them get rid of their work stress and tension in a healthy way,” said Graveline.
“It would be a great cultural exchange. On the field both expat and Koreans are at home in a familiar environment. And if an expat and a Korean are both first time players they can experience the sport together. It is a good thing because it lets them bond over a common interest away from work and the busyness of Korea.”
The league has attracted some sponsors in Big Rock Brewery in Gangnam, Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon, and a new service for foreigners, Concierge K.
“It’s like a slice of home,” said Edward Leahey in a previous interview. “Our league is like a family, and Big Rock is our living room.” Games are very Sunday during the season and are held at the Seoul Sports Complex. Teams play several games on Sundays, after which there anybody can join in. After the league and club play the teams usually head over to Big Rock.
Visit www.cbhk.org for more information.
By Matthew Lamers (firstname.lastname@example.org