Linda Liu: We Have Finally an Opportunity to Represent Taiwanese Women’s Hockey

For some time I’ve been writing about women’s hockey. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to publish stories of the female hockey players from all over the world. And each of them itself was special and different, just like our lives are.

Linda Liu’s story left me speechless. I couldn’t stop reading it for its simplicity, sincerity, warmth and emotions. Linda’s education, beliefs and way of thinking definitely differs from western girls. Her story radiates with sincerity, love and respect, as almost all the stories of eastern girls.  I really enjoyed reading it, as I’m quite sure you will feel the same.

Linda Liu, the captain of the Taiwanese Women’s Ice Hockey Team

GET TO KNOW LINDA LIU

My Chinese name is Chih-Lin Liu, and my English name is LindaI’m the captain of the Chinese Taipei Women’s ice hockey national team. I’m a 22-year-old Taiwanese girl and a college student in Taipei, Taiwan, studying industrial design. From experience, I can say that it is pretty difficult being a design student and playing sports simultaneously. There are times when my projects, 30 idea sketches, and model buildings are due, and yet I still have to make it to the rink.

Except when doing research for my project and hockey practices, I love going out to observe some exhibitions or events so that I can get more ideas for my design.

Linda with her family

WE WERE RAISED BY USING A CHINESE MILITARY METHOD

I started to play inline hockey when I was 8, and joined ice hockey a year later. The story began with my dad. Namely, one day he brought home two packs of hockey gear and told my older sister and me to get ready.  As we realized what was going on, dad had already taken us to a hockey rink.

At that time my dad just retired from the military service. He had played inline hockey himself for years, so he wanted us to try it as well. Thus, we were raised, beaten, and trained like boys, by using a Chinese military method.

So how did we train on our own? We got hit every time we had skated too slow or had not played well. As we grew older, my dad trained and pushed us less and less.

Most of her life she’s been practicing with the boys.

A HUNDRED LAPS AFTER A TRAINING SESSION

Later on, I started to work harder on hockey. It was not because I was forced to, but because I wanted to. My first club (where I still play) has been Max hockey team. Today it is known as Silver Monsters Ice Hockey team. There are mainly boys, we only have two or three girls on the team.

The first two years I joined, we trained vigorously on our skating. I remember we used to skate a hundred laps after our training session. It was very difficult for me, but I still enjoyed it.

A GREAT INFLUENCE OF A HUNGARIAN KÕVÁGÓ ON TAIWANESE HOCKEY

Later on, a Hungarian guy came and changed the whole idea of ice hockey in Taiwan. Kristóf Kővágó, a former professional hockey player, has guided our club team and national team to win numerous tournament victories. He was the one who taught me a lot of things. Because of him, my ice hockey basis built up really well.

‘It was incredible experience to lead my team to a winning streak.”

AN AMAZING HOCKEY EXPERIENCE IN CANADA AND SWEDEN

In 2008, I attended the IIHF 100-year anniversary Skills Challenge event. Three Taiwanese kids went to Quebec for a fantastic hockey week. After watching all the amazing players from around the world, my friend, Tiffany, who is the Chinese Taipei National Team’s goalie, and I had a dream that one day we will catch up to them.

In order to be a better player, I have joined twice the ice hockey camp in Sweden. It was a wonderful time of my life to play with all the elite women’s national team players. To train with them was the biggest dream I could make come true when I was 14.

GATHERING THE FIRST TAIWANESE FEMALE ICE HOCKEY NATIONAL TEAM EVER

I have been playing with Taiwanese boys my whole life and never thought that playing ice hockey with only girls could be that fun. By that time Taiwanese women’s hockey was just about to start. I was thinking of one day I could play with girls and represent our country to compete with others. Why not give it a try  in a women’s team? So I took every opportunity that I could get to gather all the girls from each Taiwanese team. We were practicing together as much as we could, in order to go for some small tournament.

‘In 2014 we got the chance to play at our first formal international tournament.”

In December 2014, we finally got the chance to play at WCCOA, the very first formal international tournament. In three years, we won two gold medals at WCCOA and one at World Championships Division II Group B Qualification last year. It was incredible to lead my team to a winning streak and moved up a division that fast.

WE HUGGED ONE ANOTHER AND CRIED TOGETHER OVER THE THOUGHT ABOUT HOW FAR WE HAD COME

I remember the team bonding before the last game of  the Worlds against Belgium. Tiffany and I told the girls that this is going to be a huge step for our women’s ice hockey history. Three years ago, no one believed in us. Nobody thought that we could even win any match in the first place.So, we had to prove them wrong. We hugged one another and cried together over the thought about how far we had come. The loudest and most touching national anthem I heard was the one after the game.

When I’m talking about the national team, I have to point out the weird way  of score celebration. I do not know who started it first. When we score, we hug together and jump at the same time to cheer. It looks clumsy but that’s just how we celebrate. 😀

‘A few years ago, none believed in us, so we had to prove them wrong.”

I WILL JUST ALWAYS PUSH MYSELF TO THE LIMIT

For the environment of Chinese culture, we will imagine an athlete normally looks taller, bigger or stronger than average. We will also think of an athlete as “not so smart to study but can do sports”. Based on these facts, I’m not an average athlete. I look like every other girl of my age. People still get surprised when they find out I’m a hockey player. It is funny to watch their reaction whenever I do something only “strong people can do”.

Whatever people think a girl should be or look like, I will just always push myself to the limit and surprise those who do not believe I’m able to do that. I do not need to be masculine to let others know I am tough. I simply want to prove that a normal look Asian girl can do both sports and study, and I do them pretty well.

‘I want to help more on the team and pursue higher level of hockey.”

NEVER TRY AND YOU’LL NEVER KNOW

I have never really planned my future with hockey. I was taught in a typical Chinese way of thinking that you were not going to make a living with sports. As time went by, I started to dig out the purpose of me playing hockey. As long as I can make sure there is no problem for me to feed myself.

Everyone needs a dream to live on. Why not put one into my life? Five years ago, there was no chance for us to join the IIHF tournament. We did not have enough women players to build up a team. And we finally have an opportunity to stand on an international stage and step out to represent our country. I want to help more on the team and pursue higher level of hockey.
I will continue practicing as hard as I can to join the draft of any women’s professional hockey league. Never try and you’ll never know, right?

‘Everyone needs a dream to live on. Why not put one into my life?”

BELIEVE iN YOUR ABILITIES, AND BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF

Honestly, I think hockey is not an easy sport in any way. But it is like our lives. We need to work hard to get what we want. And sometimes we lose though we did all we could. Honestly, I think I am never good enough. So I will reflect myself after each pass, shot or a puck save, just to make sure I will not make the same mistake again. It is like a lifestyle, we keep reflecting our behavior and never stop learning. The only thing that matters is to believe in your abilities, and be the best version of yourself.

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