Giving a voice to roller hockey

Andreu Muñoz is about to sign for a Portuguese semi-professional roller hockey team, looking forward to being able to compete in the Portuguese first division, while he’s focused on giving visibility to his sport. 

“My priority is playing hockey, but my duty is to show the world what makes me happy, because it’s a sport that requires many hours, and it’s nonsense not to recognize our efforts,” he said in Spanish.

After years of competing, Muñoz would have liked to follow a role model, someone to draw inspiration from on the track. Therefore, he talks about the sport on social media, shows his training, and tries to vindicate this discipline. 

Although roller hockey is not so well known in Europe as ice hockey in United States, Muñoz, 22, has been playing for nearly all his life. He started out as a goalkeeper as a hobby, but when he was in his teens, he realized he was meant to be a professional athlete. 

Andreu Muñoz (Photo courtesy of Andreu Muñoz)

Muñoz is competing in the second of the four Spanish roller hockey leagues. He tríes to keep the Lloret de Mar Hockey Club competitive. It is now in second place of group 2 of the OK Silver League. This competition is the second division of the men’s roller hockey federation in Spain and is divided into two groups with 12 teams in each.  Among the 24 teams that make up the two league groups, Lloret de Mar is in fourth place with 41 points. Being able to leave his home team and wear the jersey of a Portuguese team for the next season is the reward for his commitment as goalkeeper, because Portugal has one of the most competitive leagues.

Muñoz’s passion for hockey started at the age of 3 when he saw his father, Andrés, playing with some friends. Accompanying his dad to competitions allowed him to share the hobby. 

“He asked me to train for hockey after school. He wished to leave class and go to the track with the coach and his teammates,” said Andrés Muñoz, his father, in Spanish. 

Growing older, Andreu Muñoz had to balance his dedication to his studies with the time that the training required. Back then, high school required his attention for the exams, his team was moving him up to a more professional category.

Andreu didn’t just want to study and be a hockey player. He also wanted to save money, and worked weekends as a waiter from age 16. 

“I remember that there were times when I needed to break myself into two because I didn’t want to abandon either of them,” he said in Spanish. “It stresses me out as I had a lot of things to work on it, but I learned to be organized and perseverant.”

And it seems to be true. He studies biology and often works as a bartender while managing to protect the goal of the Lloret de Mar first team. 

His priority now is raising his team to the first division of the Catalan League since they lost a position last season, at the same time he works to create a virtual community of hockey fans through his social media. 

“Andreu is focused on encouraging the younger players,  because he knows they should have a role model, and he wants to vindicate our passion,” his coach, Xevi Cabanas, said in Catalan. “It is very interesting that the world knows what we do from Andreu’s perspective, because he sees hockey as a big show.”

Marc Di Tecco is an exchange student from Spain, where he studies journalism. He’s a culture and art passionate. After graduating, he plans to write about fashion and culture stories. Marc would also love to have the opportunity to discover other areas, such as radio and television, in the future.