Underwater hockey grows in PMB

2015-04-30 14:33
Underwater hockey  is growing in the PMB area. PHOTO: archives.deccanchronicle.com

Underwater hockey is growing in the PMB area. PHOTO: archives.deccanchronicle.com

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THE number of people from PMB participating in underwater hockey is gaining momentum year after year.

Underwater hockey co-ordinator Dirk Calitz said there are 45 active players in the PMB area who play on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Voortrekker High swimming pool during the summer season.

“Over the past two years, the junior division in Pietermaritzburg has developed and grown in numbers. This year Pietermaritzburg has a big and strong junior section.

“Underwater hockey is a sport played internationally by more than 22 countries in the world. In PMB we have a very active and steadily growing group of underwater hockey players representing different ages.

“Every year there is a national underwater hockey championship tournament for juniors and for seniors at different venues in the country.

“We had a strong group of juniors playing in the PMB area this year with a number of them making the KZN boys’ and girls’ U19 teams. The boys’ U19 team played in the men’s U19 B league and won a bronze medal. The KZN girls’ U19 team played in the ladies U19 A league and although they played well, did not make it through to the medals,” said Calitz.

He said there has been success for PMB underwater hockey players.

“Chrizanne Smit of Voortrekker High was named the most promising junior underwater hockey player in the U15 and younger age group. She also won a bronze medal in the 50-metre surface fin swimming and a silver medal in the 50-metre Apnea Fin swimming competition during this tournament.

“The national underwater hockey championships for seniors took place recently in Grahamstown. We had one lady from Pietermaritzburg, Jeanie Fogwell, who played for the KZN ladies elite team. The KZN ladies elite team also won the ladies league at this tournament. Jeanie has also been selected as part of the SA ladies elite team training squad and if selected, will represent South Africa at the World Underwater Hockey Championships in August in Spain,” he said.

In order to excel at the sport Calitz said a passion for the sport is the number-one priority.

“If you enjoy it, it is much easier to do the hard work. Put in lots of training if you want to compete at top level. A top athlete in this sport will have good personal underwater hockey skills such as stick skills, underwater agility, fin technique, fitness, speed and endurance. The person must also be a good team player. Good defensive skills will often be the difference in a player between good and excellent,” he said.

Calitz said he sees underwater hockey growing in PMB and plans to expand the sport into schools.

“It is a growing sport worldwide and it is also growing locally. Not only is it an awesome sport, but it is so healthy.

“The Sport Science Institute of University of Stellenbosch has found it to be one of the best sports to develop your cardiorespiratory system. It really gives you a good workout.

“I have been playing underwater hockey since 1982 and ever since then I have loved the sport. We would like to develop it, especially at school level, and introduce underwater hockey to schools that are interested in it.

“I invite anyone interested in the game to contact me or to attend one of our training sessions on a Thursday evening in season,” said Calitz.

Those interested can phone Calitz on 082 938 6662 or send an email to dirk@outdooreducators.co.za or contact Mike Maggs at 083 292 0336 or e-mail him on mmaggs@nortech.co.za

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