A Tingwall woman is making a name for herself as an international hockey player – halfway round the world.
Lynne Scollay, 30, moved to Hong Kong 10 years ago, shortly after the island was returned to Chinese control. She had got a job teaching in a primary school after graduating with a BA from Stirling University.
She began playing for a hockey team in Hong Kong and after learning she could qualify for the national side after three years of consecutive residence that became her aim.
Lynn worked her way up from the third to the first division team and in 2006 was invited to train with the national squad, under the tuition of coach Jiuyan Wang who had played for China in the Sydney Olympics.
After her first year of training she was disappointed not to make the final squad for the Asian Games which were being held in Hong Kong. However, she made the team for the next competition, a quadrangual tournament in Singapore with Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
Lynne said: “It was my first taste at this level of competition and I remember sitting on the bench thinking ‘What am I doing here?’ The hockey was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was an awesome experience and the whole professionalism of the tournament gave me the motivation to try and make the team for the Asia Cup again.”
After a hard year of training Lynne was selected for the Asia competition, scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka last summer. But due to political unrest it was unfortunately cancelled.
She said: “That was devasting as we were so fit and had worked really hard. However, we did get to play against the New Zealand Black Sticks as part of their warm-up on the way to the Bejing Olympics.”
The past two weeks have seen Lynn finally fulfilling her dream of taking part in a major international tournament, with selection for the seventh Asia Cup in Bangkok, Thailand. Hong Kong finished seventh in the competition, behind China, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Kazakhstan, and ahead of Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
The tournament finished on Sunday with an epic final between China and India. According to Lynne there was “a back to front China flag, delays due to a power cut, torrential rain at half time followed by the pitch going on fire during the medal presentation. China beat India 5-3 so even the hockey was good too”.
About halfway through her time in the far east Lynne managed to fit in a year of working for the VSO in India and Nepal, teaching school children there, and after that adventure she got her old job back again in Hong Kong.
This year she has given up her full-time employment to concentrate more on her hockey, as the players are expected to train as a team for 12 hours a week on top of maintaining their own individual fitness.
She said: “It hasn’t come without a few heartbreaks and sacrifices along the way to reach this point. [But] when you get a chance to live your dream you can’t pass it up.”
In her early days in Shetland Lynne played for Scalloway and also appeared for the junior inter-county team against Orkney, and she remembers receiving great encouragement from Helen Laurenson, Fiona Black and others too numerous to mention.
When she eventually returns home she has another long-standing ambition. “I still hope to play in the Shetland senior county some day and it’s on my list of things to do. Hopefully I can follow Jill Hibbert’s example and have a few years left to pencil that in.”