When moving to a new country, it always helps if you can bring your passion with you. Alex Hughes, 24, is doing just that. Originally from Stoke-on-Trent (UK), Hughes recently moved to southern Spain to take on a new job and has immediately involved himself with the inline hockey scene on the Costa del Sol.
Hughes has been playing the sport ever since he was seven years old. In that time he has won three UK National Championship titles, the most recent of which was last season. He also played in the Oktoberfest tournament in Germany in September this year, and has previously played in tournaments in the USA.
Now, he is embarking on an all-new adventure here in Spain and will continue his fledgling career with the Fuengirola Lions.
What has attracted you to southern Spain?
I got the opportunity to move over here as a job came up, and I couldn't turn down the chance to live in the sun. My brother already lives over here so it wasn't a difficult decision.
How did you hear about the Fuengirola Lions?
A friend in the UK has played in southern Spain previously so he let me know a bit about the teams over here. I heard there was a rink in Fuengirola so I got in touch on Facebook. I don't really know much about the teams out here, other than the Lions were the champions last season. It will be good to get the season started and see how we can do.
How do you feel to be the first Brit to represent the side?
I don't really think of it like that, we are all just playing hockey!
What's it like mixing with the other nationalities?
I enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds, so it's a good experience for me. Hockey is played slightly differently in different countries, so I'll have to learn what works here and adapt my game.
Is there a lot of enthusiasm for inline hockey in the UK?
I've played for 17 years and there has always been great competition across all age groups. Hopefully that will continue as there are still people who put the time in to keep getting kids into the game, but of course it is still only a small sport and most people have never heard of it.
How have you been welcomed so far?
Everyone I've met playing hockey over here has been really friendly. It's the hockey community, that's one thing that doesn't change.
What do you think the side can achieve this year? Are you excited to get started?
Of course - I'm about to start a new season in a new country! Coming from a league-winning team, into another league-winning team, obviously I'm hoping we can do the same again this year.