Romani hockey player pushes Spiš into the Slovak Extraliga
The Spišská Nová Ves hockey club, which won the opening of the Slovak Premiere League, is now fighting in the playoffs with Detva to advance into the Slovak Extraliga, and the excellent atmosphere in the stands pushing their players forward has been provided for several years now by Roman locals. These fans come to do more than just cheer on "their" player, František Koky.
During the opening two games of the finals, Spiš was able to turn out a fan base that would be the envy of most teams in the Extraliga. "The atmosphere was excellent! My hat is off to our fans and on behalf of the whole team I thank them very much," Koky said to news server Hokej.sk; the skillful attacker has proven that Romani people can play good hockey too.
Romani residents of Spiš love hockey and make that clear through their large presence at games and their unique signs. "I don't look at this as the Roma coming to cheer just for me. I personally don't pay attention to that when I play, I concentrate only on my performance. Romani people here have a big fan club and they have come to cheer the team on for years. It's good that they show us such support and we are grateful for each and every fan," Koky said.
The final is very evenly matched so far, with each team having scored a victory. Koky scored one goal during the final.
The Romani player is the club's fourth most productive player this season. He has scored 18 goals and 27 assists.
František Koky: I want to play hockey
The 29-year-old Koky's hockey career as been fostered by Spiš, where he started as a trainee. During the 2002/2003 season he became the most productive player on the junior team with 21 goals and 27 assists.
One year later, at the age of 18, he played his first game for an A team. "I have been playing hockey since my trainee days, I dedicate all my strength to it, and I'd like to achieve something in it. I have decided to do everything I can to succeed. Men's hockey is much faster, the players are stronger and taller, and I have much less room on the ice," Koky said at the time.
Later he left the A team, returning for the 2013/2014 season, where he played for free while holding down another job. As he said upon his return to the club, he just wants to play hockey only.
"It is possible to do both. I'm very glad I can work, because it means I have an income in addition to hockey. In the Czech Republic or France there are players who hold down some other job and also play hockey. My employer deserves my thanks, because he makes it possible," Koky told news server Korzár.sk in the fall of 2013.
"I always believed I would make the team. I trained all last year and didn't manage to get a position in any of the clubs. At the end of last season I spent a month in the Czech Republic. I am very glad the Spiš guys have invited me back into the collective," Koky told the daily Šport, which reported that he is the first professional Romani hockey player in Slovakia.
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