Not many people would have heard of the sport underwater hockey. This unique sport has been present in DCU now for over two years and as the popularity grows so does the success, with the club taking home their first ever trophy in Limerick last weekend.
The DCU team, who are currently amalgamated with the Dublin Vikings travelled to Limerick to partake in the competition called “The Battle of the West.” The competition took the form of a round robin which DCU came out on top beating UCD, UL and Cork.
The sport sees a combination of diving, swimming, ice hockey and field hockey where players use a strong plastic stick, around 30cm, to score by shooting a puck into metal trays at the bottom of the pool.
The game itself is supposed to be non-contact but players wear gum-shields and padded gloves as well as diving gear like water polo hats, mask, a snorkel and fins.
In every game of underwater hockey, there are three referees. Two referees are in the water watching the game while the third is at poolside and rings an underwater gong to stop and start time.
The sport was originally created as an easy pastime for scuba divers to stay active during winter months when it was too cold to dive. However, the interest for the sport quickly caught on and has since spread across Ireland and further afield. It still has a very long way to go before it is on the same wavelength as diving or hockey, but it has still captured its own audience here in DCU, with the club forming in early 2018.
International student Lauren Battel from London Canada, just outside of Toronto got involved at the beginning of the year after hearing there was a sport that had a combination of her two favourite sports, swimming and ice hockey.
“When I arrived in DCU, I realised that there was no ice rink to practice ice hockey, so I was introduced to the game of underwater hockey through a few friends and immediately fell in love with the game.
“It is a bizarre game but that’s what makes it interesting. Everyone in the club is really welcoming until you start to play a match. Even though it is a non-contact sport, it can be extremely violent,” laughed Battel.
After winning their first trophy in Limerick, DCU will now move onto their next two competitions, The Shamrock Cup in UCD on April 11th and the Underwater Hockey International Tournament in Berlin in early May.