Last year, Leicester Hockey Club’s very own Oriwa Hepi made the huge decision to leave New Zealand behind to journey to the United Kingdom and play hockey in the heart of England. With her husband Sam and baby daughter Maia accompanying her, the trio commenced an incredible journey that went beyond the distance travelled from the southern hemisphere to the northern one.
Writing for our own website, Oriwa provides her personal account of her experience over the past year. In this, the first of three parts, Oriwa talks about her motivation behind moving to England…
Eighteen months ago, I became a mother; an always hungry, tired, and unconditional loving mother.
Looking back, it was one of the most beautiful and challenging moments of my life. I wasn't sure what life had planned for me after this point. I knew I wanted to get back to being as capable as I was before having my baby. I also knew I wanted to go back to work. I didn't want to be stuck in the stereotype of having to drop everything in my life to look after Maia; I didn't want to be the stay-at-home mother.
Thankfully I have a husband, Sam, who was more than happy to do just that.
It's interesting the small comments peers and colleagues made which encouraged me out of that stereotype. Colleagues, who are strong working mothers themselves, and peers who just thought a few helpful comments like ‘You have 18 years until you can do what you want to do’ or "How long will you stay at home to look after the baby?’ And on most accounts, I believed it to be true, that I wouldn't carry out any of my ‘old dreams’ but instead make new ones ‘better suited’ for my family of three.
Seven months post-baby I was asked to play a warm-up game for Midlands Hockey in New Zealand.
Participating in this match showed me how much I missed playing competitive hockey. My really good friend, Micky, took an opportunity and packed her bags to go live one of her dreams. She was offered a contract to go play hockey for a club in England. I was so very happy for her and also extremely jealous.
So I sent a video of the recent match I played with the Midlands hockey team to clubs in England.
Keep in mind, the footage was of a slow mama running around the hockey pitch for Midlands. I found myself a club to play for in England and signed with Leicester Hockey Club. We didn't have to chat much about it, Sam and I. Sam always knew playing hockey overseas was something I have always wanted to do.
The next day I handed in my notice for work, booked our flights, and broke the news to our parents that their first grandchild will be moving over to the other side of the world. Yes, that's right; Leicester Hockey Club took me as a player and agreed to have my Maia and Sam there with me.
Within a month, we had left our family behind in Auckland Airport, and my family of three set off on an adventure. In my mind, by taking on this adventure, I was crushing any stereotypes people had on becoming a mother. Showing them, I didn't have to give up my previous physical and social self.
Check back next week, when we’ll be publishing part two of Oriwa’s story.