Underwater hockey (UWH) is a globally played limited-contact sport in which two teams compete to manoeuvre a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opposing team’s goal by propelling it with a hockey stick (or pusher). Just like the sport title says, a hockey game but underwater.
Players are not allowed to use breathing devices such as scuba gear whilst playing. You have to hold your breath while playing the sports which makes it way more challenging.
The sport has grown steadily in Malaysia for the past two years and our Malaysia team reached out to us. They were looking for sponsorships because some of their athletes are going to UK for an underwater hockey competition.
It is a great exposure for them and to grow their skills in a way too. Since our principle is to always support local athletes to explore more and grow, our team has decided to sponsor RM 2.5k so that they can cover some of their expenses such as flights, accommodations and transportation.
We are very grateful for them to share their stories during the British open league. Here’s a blog about their journey!
It was a dream come true for our Malaysian athletes when they were invited to join the UWH British Open League, organized by @more.sport.uwh.official. Six athletes were selected from Malaysia led by the captain & coach Roshan Babu Balakrishnan, Wong Hou Yi, Teah Jian Zhuan, Lee Xi Yiu, Nadiya Chong and Pavinya Ramachandra. They were joined by Mark Palfrey, Phil Thompson and Henri Van Der Westhuizen from the United Kingdom to form Team Predator. This was the very first time that the Malaysian Underwater Hockey athletes had participated outside Asia.
With 2 years of minimal training and game time, our athletes were still very motivated to give out all their best for this competition. Day 1 and the first match saw us lose 6-1. The team struggled a little being a mixed team playing against a full men's team. They were more experienced and stronger on the puck while we were still trying to adapt to the level of play with our new team mates. The second game ended in a draw of 3-3. We started being able to plan our attacks but made a few mistakes in our defense which led to the draw. For the 3rd match, we were all pumped up in wanting to get the very first win for Malaysia in a competitive setup. Indeed it was a match which gave us butterflies in our belly. It ended 14-0. We WON!
We had a total of 8 matches on the very first day which was the very first time the Malaysian athletes had played that many games in a single day. We lost 4, Draw 2 and Won 2. One of the matches that we won, saw us playing with only 6 of the Malaysian athletes as our UK teammates wanted us to get more game time. We won 9-0 in that match, playing 6 vs 10 with no subs.
For Day 2, the organizers decided to change the tournament format to have both groups play against each other. We were from Group B which was more of the intermediate team, mixed teams and women team. Group A however was the elite men's team. The best of the best players were in there with plenty of idols we have been following on Facebook and Instagram for a few years now. Playing against them was hard but we still gave them a fight and not let them score double figures against us. On the second day we also played an intense match against the same team we drew twice on day 1. This time we planned our strategy and gameplay and went for the win. In the end we won 5-1. This was like a huge achievement for the Malaysian team.
The final result of the competition saw Malaysia in 2nd place of Group B and 6th overall. This was a new benchmark set by the Malaysian athletes. The experience gained will be resourceful in Malaysian future preparation and competitions. Apart from the tournament, we also learnt plenty from our very own teammates, our opponents and we made so many new friends. We even got invited to join the Yorkshire team for a training session which we joined and had a great time.
After the tournament ended, we headed back home for a nice meal and proper rest. We planned the last 3 days of the trip for sightseeing. Our teammate Henri, took a day off to bring us around London to visit some of the famous tourist spots. The next day we visited York and got ourselves some souvenirs to bring back home. The last day we traveled to Manchester where we were supposed to be flying out from. With a few hours in the morning, and a few Manchester United supporters in our team, we headed out for the Old Trafford Museum and Stadium tour. Being able to see all those trophies and walk the path of so many football legends, it was another sporting dream come through for some of us.
It was a fantastic trip for the Malaysian athletes. We learnt a lot, experienced a lot and improved a lot. Overall the trip was a dream come true for all of us and this could not be achieved without our dear sponsors who made this happen. We surely will miss the UK and hope to go back soon to compete again in another competition and do even better.
Look out for Team Malaysia guys! Malaysia Boleh!!!
Blog Written by Pavinya Ramachandran and also Roshan Babu Balakrishnan.
Team UWH Malaysia. 💙