Field Hockey Club Sports International Flare

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In a sport that has less official U.S. members than undergraduates at Cal, the Bears' field hockey club team is truly one of a kind.

Founded in 1978 by Manzar Iqbal and Derek Pappas as a men's field hockey club, it was originally part of the Northern California Field Hockey Association created by high-caliber players in the early 1960s.

"The sport was started to organize the sport formally on campus and to get the players recognition within the sports club system," Pappas says.

Although the club began as a men's team, it is now a co-ed team attracting a global crowd.

"There's a very international character, reflecting the demographic of the sport," sweeper Andreas Kadavanich says. "At any given time we've got Asians, Australians and Europeans in the club."

The club is the only university club on the West Coast and the only club within the league with official university recognition, Kadavanich says.

The connection with the university also has its drawback by creating a much more fluid team with many players cylcling though as they go through school, notes Erica Friesen.

Most of the teams the Cal club plays are community based allowing for a long-term team roster.

By drawing on international talent the team also has a wide spectrum of talent and ages from the international level to high school, community members to undergraduate students.

"It's a unique sport and not mainstream in the States," Arshan Poursohi says. "Everyone has an accent in this sport."

Because the sport is not popular in the United States many of the players in the club come from international backgrounds and are post doctoral and graduate students.

"It draws a diverse crowd," Friesen says. "We get a lot of graduate students and a lot of international students."

The eclectic mix of ages, talents and backgrounds has created a team dynamic that is absent of designated captains and coaches.

"We have no leaders so there isn't really any central authority," Kadavanich says. "There's a group of hard core players who makes things happen, but other than that things generally occur by consensus."

Members of the team say the lack of central authority was a strength of the team providing each member with many instructors.

"Everyone becomes a teacher, everyone is telling someone what to do," Poursohi says. "It adds to the friendliness. It's not so competitive that everyone is at each other's throats, but it's not just an afternoon hockey match either."

Since it's inception the team has seen many of it's players go on to play on the U.S. National Team and has several former U.S. national and junior national team players as well as former national players from countries such as Ireland and Hong Kong.

The club won the First Westen Collegiate Cup in 1980 and has won several Bay Area Field Hockey Association Championships and placed second in National Club Championships in the 1992-1993 season.

Despite the past championships, many players credited the jovial atmosphere of the team as reasons for playing.

"It's one of the few areas where you have a consistent team that you can always play with," David Liu says.

Liu's fellow club member Poursohi agrees.

"It's a friendly sport to play," Poursohi says. "It's just another group of friends you can join."

The Cal field hockey club belongs to one of the few competitive leagues in the country. The BAFHL has 10 teams fielded by eight clubs. The club has a 3-3-1 record in its current season.


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