2018 was a year of change for the underwater-hockey group.
Like life, we had our ups and downs, but overall more up than down.
A highlight for me was the great team spirit and generally positive atmosphere throughout the year.
On the down side, some of our more experienced members spread their wings and flew away to other parts of the world, leaving some big gaps to be filled.
On the up side, we recruited some new players who are well on their way to filling those gaps.
Another positive, for me at least, was trying a new training scheme from Sophia Tapper, professional trainer and Great Britain Women’s World Elite representative. Even better would be if everyone could have trained according to this plan. I still need to finish the job, and gather feedback from all the participants. Maybe we can convince the rest of the club that Sophia really has some good ideas!
The year started with a meeting, and a plan (I wish I could do the same with my life); setting goals for the club.
We all agreed that we wanted a Wahoo team to win the inaugural Swiss Cup. The question was, how? This dilemma occupied us for a couple of months, and finally we decided to enter two teams that were as equal as possible, at least on paper. We felt that this would be best for our club, the tournament, and hockey in Switzerland in general.
The first quarter of the year we also enjoyed a set of “mini tournaments”. Another job that I need to finish – announcing the results and having a small celebration. Yes, I will get around to that too!
My first tournament was in Kranj, in February, playing with the Swiss mix team. It was a fun weekend, meeting new people and seeing some old faces.
Our club members attended a couple of tournaments, including the Annemass/Léman tournament organised by our friends from Geneve. But my next tournament was the inaugural Swiss Cup in June. This was a big highlight for us all. We were not sure just how strong the other teams would be, and whether our strategy of playing two “equal” teams was going to pay off, and if it really was a good idea to lend some players to other teams. However both Wahoo teams made the final, and I’m not going to talk any more about that 😉
The tournament as a whole was a credit to the organiser Silvania Avelar who, with support from the Kloten SLRG, put in countless hours behind the scenes to bring off a really fun event. This was a great step forward for Underwater Hockey in Switzerland.
With one goal ticked off our list, it was time to head to Munich, for our next big tournament. This one we really wanted to win. I felt that we had one of the strongest Wahoo teams I have played in. We started well, winning all our preliminary games. However we were only really tested towards the end of the day. We beat the strong Slovenian team, full of big East European bears. Then it was time to face the other favourite, the Hungarian team, full of elite players. Unfortunately they scored a few quick goals, and we just didn’t have time to fight back. They had experience and depth, but for me it was one of those games where I just felt that we (and I) didn’t play to our potential.
So we ended up losing just one game, but finished third overall on goal difference. This was a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
This was my first Munich tournament, but not the first for Wahoo; indeed we have won the tournament in the past. Even though we didn’t win this time, I took some satisfaction in the feedback from around the pool; that other teams were impressed with our professionalism, and how the Wahoo team had matured in just one year. It’s always easy to spot the stronger, more experienced teams. You can always tell the team that is focused and has a purpose. They are always where they need to be, when they need to be, with no fuss or noise. They are always lined up, ready to start the game, even if the referees and opposition are not. This time it was my team that were being noticed, and that felt good!
Munich saw the end of my “competitive” season, and it was time to relax, let my body recover, focus on other things and bring my hockey back to just one night per week.
The Autumn/Winter months saw a decrease in numbers attending training. This is a trend that we all need to work on reversing, doing our best to market our really awesome sport to friends, colleagues and strangers! Training was replaced with some nice social events, and training of a different kind in the form of a BLS-AED (Basic Life Support – Automatic External Defibrilator) Course for some club members.
The last weeks of the year brought us an early Christmas present in the form of three new players, welcome aboard Jessica, Olga and Anica!
A special mention to our club members who competed last year at very high levels in the French League and in the 3×3 tournament in Columbia. Your combination of skill, dedication and fair play is a great example to all of us, something that we can all aim to achieve.
Last but not least I want to mention another great team effort. We now have our own web site: uwhzuerich.ch, a public Facebook page and a private Facebook group for club internal communication. The goal of this exercise was to improve the communication to all Wahoo members, and to attract new players to our sport. A special thanks to Zsuzsa for her support with the web site.
Life goes in cycles, and hockey is no exception. 2018 was a year of change for our club. While we are going through a phase of reduced members, I know that this is just a phase – I’ve seen it a few times before, in lands far away!
I’m sure that the the positive and friendly atmosphere in our club will make new players want to stay, once we actually manage to get them to the pool. It certainly motivates me, and makes me look forward to another fun year with the Wahoo team!