Three members of the junior Isle of Wight junior Underwater Hockey club attended this year’s Junior National tournament in Sheffield. Grace Cockayne joined forces with others in the under 19s and her team came fourth. Ivy Jenkins from St Mary’s Primary School and Charlotte Cockayne of Ryde Academy were in team Zarifa in the under 12s, and they collected bronze medals.
Underwater Hockey, or Octopush as it is also known, has been played on the Island for over 20 years and currently has its home at Waterside Pool in Ryde. The club meets on a Sunday evening, 6.15pm for juniors and 7.15pm for adults.
Juniors range in age from eight years up to 15 and spend half hour on training and half an hour playing matches. Over the past few years the Island club has produced three young people who have gone on to train with the Great Britain team. The Island also sends players to national competitions regularly, they meet up with others from the region to form team South East. Many of our juniors play to develop their swimming skills, confidence in the water and build up teamwork skills; and also because it’s great fun!
The adults range from 15 years old to over 70, many having played for years. They currently play matches for the whole hour but there is an opportunity for adults to train at one end of the pool while the juniors are playing.
Octopush was invented in the early 1950s by sub-aqua divers just across the solent in Southsea who were bored with just swimming up and down pool lanes to get fit. The game spread worldwide and is now played in over 25 countries with World Championships held every two years.
Players wear mask, snorkel, fins, hat and glove. They use a small stick to push the puck into the opposing team’s goal. There are 10 in a team but only six play in the water at one time with fast substitutions made at any time. It is a supreme aerobic game with real skill needed to judge when to dive and when to re-surface to breathe. The game keeps your body fit and mind alert and almost anyone who can swim can join in. Size, age and sex make little difference to playing successfully, the most important element is teamwork.
There are World Championships and Age group (under 19s and under 23s) World Championships held every two years. This year the Age Group World Champs will be hosted in Sheffield in August.
Anyone interested in joining the Island club can meet at the Waterside Pool or contact Mary Cockayne on (01983) 565444.