“I understand why I get the attention, but apart from being the only female player in the competition, I want to show everyone how I can play.”
Norway and Sweden did not have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Para ice hockey competition at PyeongChang 2018 when they faced off in Group A. But the match was historic nevertheless.
After 24 years, a female player once again competed at a Paralympic Winter Games, with Norwegian Lena Schroeder taking to the ice for the first time in the competition since compatriot Bri Mjaasund Oejen at Lillehammer 1994.
Despite acknowledging the importance of this achievement as another step towards gender equality through sports, Schroeder wants to prove she is not just a female player but a good player.
“I understand why I get the attention, but apart from being the only female player in the competition, I want to show everyone how I can play,” the 24-year-old said.
Schroeder began playing Para ice hockey at age 15 in 2008 in Moss, Norway. "I didn't have any other experience with Para sports other than sit-skiing.
“So I just got a message from someone I knew that they were starting a team where I lived. And I thought, 'Hey, I should give this a chance because it's probably the only opportunity I have to do Para sports in my area'."
She has not stopped ever since, dreaming to one day compete at the biggest stage of all. “Being at a Paralympic Winter Games had been my goal for a long time. It is fun to be part of the Norwegian team and great to compete at my first Games,” she said.
“I play as a forward but have played defence before. Men are faster and stronger but I have to compensate that and I am getting there. I am good at reading the game, the tactics. That is my most important skill. I have to be smart and use my timing.”
As to how it feels to share the team just with male players, Schroeder admits she is “one more. And most of the guys consider me like that, which is what I want. I am no more or less important than any. We are all equally important.
“We share the dressing room but I get to shower alone, I go either before or after. We have our logistics and it works.
“I hope me being here as a female can help. There are more female athletes competing here than in Sochi. It is developing. I am just a part of that, there are many other women competing at the Paralympics who deserve attention.”
Tickets for PyeongChang 2018 can be purchased here.
Every competition as well as the Closing Ceremony can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.