Our Goal Keeper Mira Plocek (Vlad) recently returned to his home town in Czech, where he was interviewed by local media about his experience in Australia and Floorball in general. Vlad has been kind enough to translate the entire article for us all to read!
32 year old Floorball player comes from Zdar nad Sazavou where he used to play for local team Hippos. He graduated from faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Brno with masters degree. He went to Australia 9 years ago where he works now in a large mining company. He managed to gain Australian Citizenship and he started to represent Australia. He played at World Cup in Sweden 2 years ago where he helped to finish 14th in the world. He is also trying to be selected for the World Cup in Latvia.
He played floorball also with Koukal & Vampola back in the days.
Plocek managed to make Australian squad on the other side of the planet.
Ex Hippos Zdar nad Sazavou goalie moved to Perth 9 years ago. He found a job in his major, mechanical engineering, and soon he also started to play floorball again. He would love to represent Australia in 2 years WC held in Czech Republic.
When he decided to study language course in Australia 9 years ago, he had no idea that this 8 months trip will be extended indefinitely and that he will discover new home on the other side of the world. Zdar nad Sazavou floorball player, Vladimir Plocek, found a new job in Perth and new floorball goalie job. He might also play for Australia his second world championship.
“I only had money for 1 month at the start, I lived from week to week. And when the time to go back to Europe had come, I felt like I have not seen enough from this country yet. Although I managed to have regular income, it was not enough for all travels. That’s why I decided to extend my stay for at least a year and everything ended up like this.”
He had an advantage, as a graduate mechanical engineer, that there were a lot of mining jobs available at that time during mining boom. “I began working in a corporate consulting company which is involved with big civil projects all around the world. I worked on projects related to hydraulics, water etc. We were setting up new accommodation villages out in Pilbara for mining companies where there was nothing before”, describes Plocek.
He was improving English gradually and he had nothing to complain about under his boss back then. Global economy crisis, however, ended his first job in 2009. “I was getting ready for some travelling, however, an opportunity arouse to start working for a smaller business dealing with technical ceramics. Two years later, I managed to start working for big mining company which I am working for until now”, Plocek describes his career path.
He spends a lot of time a lot of time out of the city, however, his second home is now Perth. The largest city in WA with 1.7M population. City is known as the sunniest city on Earth. “I could not get used to the weather condition as it always felt like hot dry sauna. And it is probably truth with the sun as when it occasionally hides behind clouds, you don’t see any people on the street. Everyone thinks the weather is terrible.”
He can then fully enjoy local WA famous beaches. “They are definitely the best in the country, everyone says that. But so that I don’t name only positives… Perth is also meant to be one of the most boring cities. It has almost 2 million people, however, there are not many things around. Culture, concerts, everything is a bit further than usual. The development has been a bit slower than in Sydney or Melbourne as the city is much younger.”
There are a lot of different nationalities in Perth and in Australia as such. “If there are 15 people at the meeting at work, there would be at least 10 different guys born in different countries. But there are not too many disputes between people because of that. Apart from aboriginal people. Their culture was destroyed in a similar way like Indians in America.” Plocek mentions that Aboriginals did not even have a status of Australian citizen till 60’s in the last century.
Refugee crisis which has impacted Europe last year is known mostly from TV news. “There were a lot of talks about it, people were asking what do I know from my mates and family in Czech. Personally I didn’t think it would be as massive. I was only quite surprised from high refugee numbers in Germany where it got up to 1 million of people.”
Plocek also kept his hobby in Australia – Floorball. He started playing in mid 90’s at high school in Zdar nad Sazavou. There was a local club being established there called Hippos at that time. He also played basketball or soccer. However, this new sport took priority quite quickly. One of the factors was its similarity with ice hockey which he was always fascinated by. ‘But if you don’t start playing this sport at the age of 5 or 6, there is not much chance to succeed’ he adds.
He was quite clear about where he wants to play as well. “I always wanted to play in goals. I trained a lot with bouncing ball, I was throwing it against the wall all the time. My reflexes were all right then.” He describes ideal preparation from his childhood. Smaller Floorball net gave him much better feeling than large soccer one. ‘Good feeling is the base. When goalie feels good, everything develops well from that.’ He emphases.
Although he found his sport number one, he still found interest in ice hockey. Also because of his team mates from his Floorball beginnings – Petr Koukal, Petr Vampola, future world champions in ice hockey or because of his old ‘always temporarily fixed’ ice hockey helmet which he used to use back then. “People were always laughing at me because of that because it was all tighten up with shoe laces”, Plocek is smiling when talking about this memory.
He started to make big plans with his ambitious team Hippos. The goal was the highest league in Czech Rep. “When my generation started, we played highest league in our first season, however, we were quite young and not very experienced and we went down to fourth highest pretty quickly. We tried to build up new team, and play higher and higher level again. That was our motivation. We created pretty good collective and we played together for quite a while afterwards. Our coach was club founder Tomas Imramovsky.”
He had to set up his priorities a bit differently though as the time progressed. Studies at university had to become priority. It was tricky to combine these two things. “I was travelling to Brno and I was not able to train four or five times a week anymore. When I turned twenty, decision was made that Uni is more important than Floorball although it was a sport which I wanted to keep playing. And it was a good decision as school has helped me to succeed in Australia.”
His Zdar nad Sazavou background has also helped him in returning to the Floorball net. “Friend of mine found few links on the internet about Floorball in Australia and I decided to contact all Floorball teams in Perth. I skipped 8 months (one season). Most of the teams came back to me and I picked one the Perth teams as my new home team. There were a lot of Europeans in there, especially from Switzerland.”
He started his new career in the country where floorball’s popularity cannot be compared to field hockey, rugby or tennis. “Although the number of registered players has doubled up in recent years and there is around two or three thousands of them, the level is still on a very different level than in Czech Republic. Czech Floorball has got good reputation in Australia. However, everyone looks up to Swedes and when there is a person with yellow shirt running around everyone is going bananas. But all top four countries are still highly regarded. Such as Czech, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden.”
Plocek plays in WA where he is keeping for his fourth local team already. He also regularly represents at Australian Floorball Open (three to four days long tournament organised by different city or state every year; this event partly supersedes national league which would have been very expensive due to long distances – Sydney and Perth are 4000km far from each other!). He managed to be in five Grand Finals and took two victories in them.
When Plocek gained Australian citizenship in 2013, he attempted playing in national team as well. It’s coach was Daniel Dornak back then and one of the strong defenders was Peter Prazan. He also had to go through rookie’s tradition. “I had to sing national anthem in front of the team. I learned it over one evening”.
Plocek played at his first big international tournament in 2014 – Asian qualification for the World Cup 2014. “We won first time in the history in New Zealand. Everyone was excited”. Greatest success happened at following World Cup tournament where Australia beat Russia 11:9. And although Aussies lost three out of their next four games, they managed to finish 14th which was the same result as in 2010.
Plocek is now preparing for selection for the second world cup tournament. Australians have successfully accomplished second qualification in Thailand. They will get a chance to play at World Cup in Latvia. “We would like to try top 10, however, Slovakia, Denmark and Poland are very tough opponents and they are looking stronger on the paper than Aussies”.
He would also like to try to play at World Cup 2018 which is held in Prague. It would be great to play against home team. “They could score 15 or 20 goals but it would have been worth it”. Then he is planning to focus on coaching career. “Floorball might become Olympic sport after 2024 which is very promising. I don’t think I would ever make it as a player, however, any coaching role might be realistic and fantastic”.
He travels back to Czech Rep once every year or two for at least three weeks. He is not planning to return back as yet. “Although my mum would have loved if I stayed in Europe. Ideally, I would be looking at options where I could stay in Australia when the weather is nice and same for summer in Europe. He also has to take into account his girlfriend. But she would not mind if we stayed in Europe for some time. She is from quite international family, mum from France and dad from New Zealand. She also bought Czech language book so that she can start studying”, Plocek is laughing.