Zulia started playing ice hockey seven years ago when she was in Toronto, playing as a goalie, or gate keeper, as the position is known in ice hockey. In recent years, she has won individual awards and helped her team to win many championships. She has been honoured as Most Valuable Player by the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Club and the Hong Kong Junior Ice Hockey League in 2007 and in the Asia MegaIce Five’s Tournament last year. She has also won “Best Goalie” titles from all three organisations.
Generally, most players want to play as forwards as these are the players who score the goals and get the glory. But Zulia says she has her reasons.
“I always like to be the centre of attention, and goalie [is] ...special because it is the only individual post in a team sport,” the Chinese International School student says. "You have to realise that even though you are playing ... with a team in a game, you really are playing only for and by yourself, and you are your own team.
“Even if your team is the greatest, you can still lose the game for them, and even if your team is the worst, you can still win the game for them - it all depends on you, the goalie, so the goalie is really playing her own game within a game.”
But she admits it is not exactly a glamour position. She says the goalie is never the hero. She can’t ever score the winning goal, but she can let in the losing goal and be blamed for the team’s defeat.
“Playing goalie has brought me a huge amount of contentment and satisfaction ... It’s probably the most difficult position to play on an ice hockey team, so I want to overcome the difficulties,” Zulia says.
“I believe goalie is the backup leader after the captain. I stand at the back of the rink and can see the whole picture. I always have a say in the game.”
The 16-year-old not only loves to play ice hockey, but also strives her best in developing and promoting this far from popular sport in Hong Kong. Despite her young age, she has coached other young goalies for more than a year. She has also been working with social service groups to teach children ice hockey occasionally.
“Instructing and coaching ice hockey goalies and players has also brought me much enjoyment because I have learned how to better communicate with others, and I have gained some recognition for my skills and abilities,” she says.
“Moreover, I’m really happy to see the kids get better and better under my coaching. It's a fulfilment different from winning a game.”
Zulia has been doing some travelling overseas to play in tournaments and attend ice hockeyclinics, and says it is interesting to compare the ice hockey situation in Hong Kong with other countries.
“Compared to Canada or the States, it's difficult to start ice hockey here. People treat it as a recreational sport rather than as a competitive one.”
That’s why the ice hockey champ wants to continue promoting ice hockey in Hong Kong, especially among young women.
“I really hope more girls can take part in this sport,” she says.
“And one day, I hope we can send a female team to represent Hong Kong in an International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.”
This summer, Zulia is going to travel for five weeks in the United States, where she will play ice hockey, attend goalie clinics and participate in ice hockey showcases.
This article appeared in the Young Post print edition asShooting for goal