The reality of getting to this level to represent Great Britain, is hours of own practice in local club... many preparation team practices held all around GB to which time, travel and accomodation is self financed... and if chosen for the team, then time off work and more financial demand to self fund the trip to the country holding the competition is what is needed (above the obvious effort of the games themselves).
Today the World (or the Europeans) and tomorrow...... back in GB and only yer mates'll ever know and maybe a few bewildered readers of your local paper.
Representing GB at the Worlds or the Europeans means taking on the best of the rest... So, in priviledged company, for those of you that don't know the game, here's a brief sample, of Underwater Hockey with the GB squad when at the European Championships, held in Marseille 2005:
Right! It's pink. But we know it's not a girly thing, It's a scientific understanding in the underwater optical world of physics, that this part of the visible spectrum allows the Puck to be seen easier, being in contrast with the wavelength of water.... of course.
OK girls, listen up...... For the sake of the viewers, here's whats gotta be done...... Between the 10 of you (6 in water & 4 subs on side), get this ere pink covered lump of lead to the end of the pool floor and into a wide, flat, metal tray (the 'gulley').
''Teams Ready, Go!''... When the game begins, all six will position themselves in a formation; forwards and backs, lefts and rights, as they sprint from the surface at one end, to get to the Puck that has been placed in the middle of the pool... Get possession!
Timing is everything... consider that play is on the pool floor... leave the surface too early and they'll waste their breath-hold play time... leave it too late and their team-mate will be stressing out with no-one to pass to.
Get the Puck and drive it with the little white pusher sticks.
Oh, yes, and the French are coming the other way... ooooh how they mess about with their team plans.
All with one thought... Get the Puck, then drive it to the opposite end of the pool floor and shove it up the Frenchies gulley..... errm, that should perhaps read; shove it anywhere in the opponents goal?
When on the puck: Push, flick, gain ground. Start, stop, twist, turn, sweep, rake, always considering best options for team-mate pass, avoid loss of possession. If can't make ground forward, try back passing and switching wings to drive it up the other side of the pool.
Whilst doing this, they may plan carefully to breathe occasionally, if needs must, during the 15min each-way game, but most of all, they'll continue full-on team play, they'll 'burn-it' as can sub anytime and as many times as wish for a fresh player.
When the game is over, it should be remembered they've just competed in the Final, after beating the whole of Europes other teams.
It should also be remembered, that they sweated in Great Britain to be selected from their individual clubs. They, at their own expense, travelled, lodged, sweated and trained together at various mutually distant (ish) places around GB whilst prepping for this competition. They, at their own expense, travelled, lodged, focused and competed at these European Championships, representing GB to Europes Underwater Hockey elite.
They made it to the Finals and through talent, teamwork and timing, they returned home having been awarded, with European 2005 Championship silver dangleys. Congratulations and celebrations all round... and well into the night (no photos available, shame).
A thankyou, also for enabling a story here, for another brief and simple little sample of the dynamic game of underwater hockey.