Underwater Hockey – The next big thing in sports?

Field hockey, ice hockey and now underwater hockey? That’s right, a game called underwater hockey is starting to gain some recognition in the region, courtesy of our neighbours Singapore.

Just like the variations in hockey, the attire varies too and in underwater hockey, also known as Octopush in the United Kingdom, players don masks and swimming fins while wielding a 35cm long stick in one hand and I’ll tell you one thing- it’s anything but easy as players would have to resurface to catch their breath every few seconds.

The game that took a head start in England more than 60 years ago, has advanced to Singapore since it was introduced by the expatriates in 2004 and a national women’s team was officially formed in 2007.

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The team made a great impression during the 19th Underwater Hockey World Championship in Stellenbosch, South Africa in the same year and being a newbie, they endured exasperating shortfalls such as a 17-0 and 14-0 defeat to top guns Australia and New Zealand respectively.

And last month, the national women’s team, which was formed in 2007, made their mark on the international scene at the 19th Underwater Hockey World Championship in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Coached by Australian Lena Plambeck, her team of 11 are starting to impress the nation and the region with their performance and capabilities. Not to mention, the players have surpassed their youths.
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 “Many expected a first-timer at the world championships to play the usual straight-down-the-pool type of game, but instead the team played wide across the pool,” said 46 year-old forward Christina Tham as quoted from The Straits Times.

Singapore were defeat 1-0 by Germany in the 9th-13th spot play-offs and it cost them the top 10. However, they managed to win over Argentina, despite them being more experienced. The team were handed an overall 11th spot on their debut.

“It all boiled down to them being slightly fitter and having more experience. We’re happy to be on par with them; just a bit unlucky,” said 39 year-old captain and full-back Cheoh Pin.

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The team, whom won the biennial Asian Underwater Hockey Championships in China in 2011 and 2013, vows to retain their titles next year.

“Our youngest player, Sheena Soh, 23, has played for only about eight months. Other countries’ players have played since a young age and have easily two times as much experience as us,” Cheoh added.

“Considering the limited experience we have, I’m pretty satisfied with our performance. We can only get better.”

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