For girls who want to play sports, ice hockey may not be the most obvious choice. Something has to change quickly, if it’s up to young ice hockey players Arwen ten Cate from Luinjeberd and Roos Karst from Tjalleberd. It’s a great sport for women too, according to the two ladies who, in addition to club competitions, have also been performing at the international level for a number of years.
Arwen and Roos are 17 years old and are in their final year of secondary school at OSG Sevenwolden in Heerenveen. But their young life is mainly dominated by ice hockey, as they already played together in the youth teams of the Heerenveen Flyers. Just this past summer, Arwen and Roos competed in the U18 Women’s Ice Hockey World Championships in Istanbul, where the U18 national team finished in fourth place. They have to give a lot in return, but they also get a lot in return. The passion and drive to play ice hockey is great and they are more than happy to tell you that.
Top sports talent school
Best friends Arwen and Roos have known each other since childhood. They went to primary school together in Tjalleberd and are now starting their exam weeks in their fifth and final year of HAVO. At OSG Sevenwolden, they both pursue their education through the Topsport Talent School, which gives them the opportunity to combine school with sport. They have to, because the ladies train daily, are often on the ice all day and have to travel a lot.
Arwen ten Cate says she was about five years old when she came into contact with ice hockey through the neighbors. She was sold immediately and once on the ice she developed into a goalkeeper. Arwen: “As a goalkeeper you have less physical contact with the opponent, but of course you have to stand in goal. The puck comes at you very quickly and your vision is often obstructed in the game.” Arwen has moved to Leeuwarden ice hockey club OG Capitals this season, where she plays for the U21 team. “At Leeuwarden they needed goalkeepers and I could play more minutes than at Heerenveen, where there was an excess of goalkeepers,” Arwen explains her choice. This means that Roos and Arwen no longer play together at the club. Roos Karst plays for the U17 and Ladies Heerenveen Flyers. Ross says she took up gymnastics until she was 11 and connected with the sport through an ice hockey clinic in Heerenveen and has embraced ice hockey ever since. On the ice, Roos is on the defensive and so she also has to fight many duels with her opponent. Anyone standing in front of the goalkeeper and thus obstructing the puck’s view has to deal with Ross. Handing out a large beech every now and then is all part of the game.
Rose: “In ice hockey, you don’t stand on the ice for more than a minute at a time on average. The field players change constantly. This is also necessary, because ice hockey is a very fast-paced and intense sport. This means that forces drain quickly and therefore you also need your rest.” You get this rest in turns. It’s very different from other sports, like soccer.”
Playing in boys’ teams
In ice hockey, not too few girls play the sport for a girls’ team, so Roos and Arwen train and play with the boys from the start. Ross estimates that the ratio of girls to boys is about one in ten. Playing with boys is not a problem for either of them. They are now the only woman in their team, but this is not a problem at all, not even in the dressing room. “We feel safe and protected and we are simply ‘one of the guys,’” Arwen and Roos say. “The mutual respect and discipline of ice hockey is great in that regard. This is taught from an early age.” I notice now, as I’m 17, that boys Much stronger physically than it was a few years ago. “When we were younger, this physical difference was smaller among peers,” says Ross. “With the Dutch team, which is made up of women only, it is in our advantage again that we are used to playing with boys. Our game may be a little tougher and we are more likely to give a boost.” In addition to women under the age of 18, Roos are now part of the National Women’s Choice. Many women from the Dutch national team are active in foreign competitions. “I can learn a lot from that.”
Canada or Sweden?
Both of them have ambitions to go abroad. Ice hockey in the Netherlands is only a small sport, especially for women. “If you have Canada and Sweden, ice hockey is bigger than soccer there. In Canada, you even have private high schools for ice hockey, but that also comes at a hefty price if you want to go there,” say both friends. Ross wants to finish her education first, preferably in the Netherlands. According to her, you can also go on a foreign adventure at a later age. Arwen also tempts abroad. “As long as it’s not somewhere up in Sweden where it barely gets light during the day in winter,” laughs Arwen. “There must be some entertainment.”
A small world with a strong foundation
Is there a life for them besides ice hockey? Arwen ten Keet and Roos Karst certainly think so. “We go out a lot, but you have most of your ice hockey friends, so you visit each other spontaneously anyway. The world is small in that regard. There is a real family feeling. There is such a strong bond between each other.” Roos and Arwen feel completely at home in this world. “Many girls have to play ice hockey. It’s a great sport. You learn a lot of useful things in everyday life: think about resistance, flexibility, discipline and respect each other. Look at the development of women’s football. It would be great if we could also make Women’s ice hockey is a bigger sport.
Text: Ynte Dragt
Photo: Ynte Dragt & Elisa Borsje