It’s Hockey but not as you know it! One of Blackchrome’s latest partners doesn’t compete on the field or on the ice, but in the water. The Australian Underwater Hockey Team will be wearing Blackchrome jackets designed to showcase the green and gold of Australia at this years World Championships in South Africa. Supplying jackets for the Australian Underwater Hockey Team has been both an exciting and enlightening process for us at Blackchrome. The Elite and Masters national side are gearing up for the World Championships that commence on the 23rd of March. To find out more about the sport and how preparation for the championships were going, we had a chat with former Elite player and now Masters representative Kirsteen Reid.
Can you briefly explain how the sport is played, some of the basic rules?
There are ten players on each team, with six players inside the playing area at once, while the other four wait in the substitution area. Usually teams set up in a 3-3 formation, consisting of a center forward, two wingers, two half backs and a full back. Games go for 30 minutes and are split up into two 15 minute halves, but there is extra time if it is a draw. The in game equipment includes custom made fins, a mask with a snorkel and a silicone glove to protect the hand. The stick is called a bat which is used to move the puck across the bottom of the pool into the trays or goals which are two to three meters deep. The puck starts in the middle and the first to it gains possession of it.
What does it take to play this sport at a national level?
The game requires a fair amount of awareness and smarts that comes with experience. It also takes a while to develop the skills you need to be successful in the sport, which means you need to be fit so you can focus on working on your skills. Managing your breathing underwater is an essential part of being able to focus on your puck skills. At national level the skill levels of players with the puck is often what makes the difference.
What level of commitment does it require from the players?
When competing at national level the sport usually demands over 10 hours a week in various forms of training. It is important to continually work on these different aspects of the game so that it all comes together when we reach competitive games. During a standard week I will devote time to weights, core workouts and cardio, in addition to the skills and work we do in the water. On top of all the training we also have games and recovery sessions during the week when the season is on, making for quite for full schedule.
How popular is the sport around Australia and around the world?
Despite being a small sport it is actually played in every state around Australia, and we come together for nationals for every year. There are altogether 16 countries which compete at the world championships which take place every 2-3 years. Some of the major countries that are involved with the world championships include New Zealand, South Africa, France, Great Britain, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, Holland and of course Australia.
How long have you been involved with the sport and the Australian team?
I have been playing the sport for about 26 years now. I have competed in six World Championships and South Africa coming up will be my seventh World Championship. This time I will be playing in the Women’s Masters competition, previously I have played in the Elite competition. During my time at the World Championships I have been able to collect three Golds, Silver and a Bronze.
The team is heading to South Africa soon, can you tell me a little bit about that?
Yeah so we are heading to South Africa for the 2016 World Championships. The championships are being held in a town called Stellonbosch, which is quite close to Cape Town. It is happening in March and will go for about two weeks all up. In the past Australia has been extremely successful at the championships, the Men and Women’s Masters teams are both defending champions.
Blackchrome supplied you with your Jackets, how has the team reacted to them?
Those who have seen them so far love them! The fabric looks and feels really good, they also fit really well. Sublimation is an amazing way to print garments, it gave us so much more freedom when it came to designing the jackets.
How important is it for a team like yours to have a positive relationship with a supplier like Blackchrome?
It was very important. All of our athletes are self-funded, meaning that we have a strict budget to stick to. The fact that we were able to achieve the look we wanted within our set budget has been a real positive. Also with South Africa coming up, it was great that we could get them before then.
Would you work with Blackchrome again in the future?
Definitely service was very professional from first contact and has been all the way through. Can’t fault you and would love to use you again!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Kirsten, all the best in South Africa and we hope you enjoy your Blackchrome Jackets!
No worries! We will keep you updated with how we go!