MARKO SVICEVIC AND LAUREN NEUHOFF
Tuks is well known for its wide range of diverse sports. One of these is underwater hockey, also known as Octopush. At first glance you might think this unique sport is just an adaptation of hockey for water, however it is actually a combination of several features and adaptations of the sport.
Unlike field hockey, the game consists of ten players per side: six players in the water and four substitutes. The game is played using fins, diving masks, snorkels, swimming caps, silicone gloves and miniature hockey-like sticks. Instead of a regular sized ball, a heavy puck is used which sinks to the pool floor and moves at a surprisingly high speed.
The rules are similar to that of field hockey but with fewer limitations. No goalkeeper is needed in this sport and all of the other positions are relative to the puck and not the playing area.
TuksUnderwater Hockey offers a variety of opportunities for students to excel in this sport. The club takes part in many tournaments across the country, making it highly competitive. World Championships are held every two years in different countries, with the next one taking place in Spain this year. Octopush is considered to be a major sport globally, especially in countries like New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Tylon Pake, a former student at Tuks and a current Tuks underwater hockey player, says, “The world is afraid of South Africa because the sport is not as big in South Africa [as it is internationally] and we still compete and win medals at every tournament.” Pake says that even though the South African field hockey community is quite big, underwater hockey in South Africa is still growing.
The club’s season is all-year round and the main focus is placed on hand-eye coordination, agility and teamwork. The game requires players to possess a keen observation of their surroundings. Those who enjoy field hockey and swimming will most certainly enjoy trying out this breathtaking sport.
Photo: Hendro van der Merwe