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Hockey but not as you know it

AAP | July 2019

The 21st World Underwater Hockey Championships are coming to the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in 2020 and spectators keen to dip their toe into the action should remember to bring their swimming costumes and snorkels.

“A great way to enjoy and understand Underwater Hockey is to jump in the pool and watch from the sidelines,” says Underwater Hockey Commissioner, Kathryn Howard, who’s delighted the Championships will hit Southport from 20 July – 1 August 2019.

And for those international and local fans choosing to stay dry in the stands, they’ll also be on top of the play with multiple cameras streaming the underwater action live to large screens around the Centre and to a worldwide audience.

“It’s wonderful to see our 2018 Commonwealth Games venues like the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre utilised for the 2020 World Underwater Hockey Championships,” says Acting Gold Coast City Council Mayor Donna Gates.

“The Championships are expected to bring more than 750 people to the Gold Coast from around the world, injecting an expected $2.2 million into the local economy and showcasing our city to a global audience.”

Played by more than 1000 people across Australia, Underwater Hockey is growing in popularity, attracting athletes who enjoy a challenge.

“It’s a three-dimensional sport that requires intricate teamwork with the difficulty of not being able to talk below water,” explains Kathryn Howard, who competes in both land and underwater hockey competitions and prefers playing in the pool. “Underwater hockey provides unique challenges and is never boring – for players or spectators.”

Devised by the British Navy in the 1950s and given the name Octopush, the game was used to keep divers fit and improve their ability to move and work efficiently underwater.

“The game involves short sharp bursts of 10-30 seconds underwater,” says Howard. “Players must be able to work hard and recover quickly. It is a unique sport that relies heavily on team performance rather than individual players.”

Being competitive and fun, Octopush has spread its tentacles worldwide and is now played in more than 20 countries.

“In the past few years Underwater Hockey has grown exponentially especially in countries around Asia,” says Howard. “China, The Philippines and Singapore are now producing strong competitive teams at local and international competitions. “Having a World Championships in the southern hemisphere provides a great opportunity for these teams to attend their first World Championships.

“And the Gold Coast is an excellent tourist destination for international travellers – it’s also the home of the legacy venues from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, including the Aquatic Centre.”

The 21st World Underwater Hockey Championships join an impressive list of international sporting fixtures for the Gold Coast including the popular 41st Gold Coast Marathon (July 6-7), which, this year, increased its capacity by 1500 to enable 8000 athletes to take part.

“The Gold Coast is already home to an impressive line-up of sporting events,” says acting Mayor, Donna Gates. “We welcome this new addition of the 21st World Underwater Hockey Championships to join our other great events such as the Gold Coast Marathon, the Quiksilver Pro and the Australian PGA Championships.”

This article was originally published on Australian Associated Press as Hockey but not as you know it.

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