BOITUMELO KOKWE

Elrich Engelbrecht is an Underwater Hockey player, and is the coach and Coach Coordinator at TuksUnderwaterHockey. PDBY spoke to Engelbrecht about TuksUnderwaterHockey and what Underwater Hockey is.

What is TuksUnderwaterHockey about?

TuksUnderwaterHockey is a family who love water and is a sports team with people who enjoy having a good time.

What is the major difference between Underwater Hockey and other types of hockey?

The major difference between underwater hockey and other forms of hockey are that it is the only three dimensional sport in the world. Thanks to that, there are three referees in the pool court, instead of one. You can’t speak to your teammates while you are submerged and playing the game.

Needing to hold your breath while playing the game is a massive factor in Underwater Hockey.

And what is Underwater Hockey about specifically?

Underwater Hockey is played in a two to three metre-deep pool. There are two teams with ten players each – with six players per team in the court with four substitutes per team. The team is either black or white indicated by the colour of their caps and sticks. The gear worn consists of a cap, diving mask, snorkel, a glove to protect the hand, a stick [to] move the puck, a pair of fins, and a swimming costume.

What happens during a match?

A match consists of two 15 minutes halves, with a three minute break where teams change sides. At the start of the match, both teams start on the side of the pool where their respective goals are. The puck is placed in the middle of the pool and when the match starts both teams sprint for the puck.

How does a team win?

The team that scores the most goals wins. This is through scoring the puck in the opposition’s goal.

When did you start playing Underwater Hockey?

I started playing at the end of 2007. My brothers and I have always been avid swimmers so when we found out about a water sport that is also a team sport, we dived right in. We were hooked from the moment we played our first game. It has almost been 13 years and we all still love the sport.

How much have you achieved in the sport?

I have won a gold medal at the Under 19 world championships and had the privilege of captaining the Under 19 and 23 South African men

teams in two different world championships. Earlier this year I was selected to be part of the team that would have represented South Africa at the 2020 Underwater Hockey World Championships. Last year I had the privilege of being the assistant coach of the Under 19 South African men’s team.

Would you consider yourself having reached the level you want to be in terms of Underwater Hockey?

With being selected for the men’s open SA team, I have reached the level I have always wanted to reach in my career. As a coach I would like to be the head coach for the Under 19 South African men’s team and a gold medallist coach. The biggest prize would be to win gold on Elite Level.

What tournaments are TuksUnderwaterHockey participating in at the moment?

The three major tournaments TuksUnderWater Hockey competes in are the Senior Nationals, Inter Clubs, and the Arnold Classic Games.

What is TuksUnderwaterHockey looking to achieve in the tournaments?

Tuks has been on the podium for all three tournaments for the last three years but haven’t won a gold medal. Our goal before the national lockdown was to win the Senior Nationals tournament. We are now focusing on winning Inter Clubs held at the end of the year.

Where is TuksUnderwaterHockey currently located?

TuksUnderwaterHockey is currently located at the Hillcrest Sports Campus’ swimming pool. Training times are Mondays and Thursdays starting at 19:30 and ending at 21:00 and on Saturdays from 13:00 to 15:00.

Image: Provided

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