It was hard for me to find a sport that I both enjoyed and was able to play competitively due to my albinism. That was until I found Octopush.
Octopush (aka Underwater Hockey) is a water sport played in your average swimming pool. The premise of the game is similar to that of other types of hockey, score by getting the puck in the opponent’s goal. The twist is that you play on the bottom of the swimming pool, while holding your breath, coming up for air when necessary.
Players wear full snorkelling gear and wield a coloured stick (about a foot in length). Teams are made up of six players in the water plus up to four substitutes sitting on poolside waiting to jump in at any moment.
I have been playing Octopush for about twelve years, starting when I was only ten, and there are clubs that run junior sessions for the even younger. I took a break from the game when I was about sixteen, however when I found that a club had been set up at my university by a former team mate of mine, I couldn’t resist getting back into it. Soon after, I was helping to run the club.
Although I mainly play at a social level now, in the past I attended various levels of national tournaments. The most successful of which were at Under-16s level, playing for Farnham and Guildford. We achieved 1st place for two years, and 3rd place another year.
Octopush is the perfect sport for me. I love to swim, but just swimming up and down the lanes became tedious. I find my albinism doesn’t put me at much of a disadvantage to other players. The pucks are usually bright orange or red, so they contrast really well with the white, blue and black tiles found in swimming pools and if the water is cloudy then everyone has trouble seeing through it, not just me. Also, unlike other ball or puck sports, in Octopush the puck moves slower and for much shorter distances, so it is easier to keep track of where it is.
If you are a keen swimmer and are looking for an interesting sport I really recommend you give it a try. There are clubs all over the UK and you can usually find your nearest with a bit of searching on the Internet.
You can find out more about Octopush on the British Octopush Association website.