In some parts of the world, a few diehard hockey players share their passion, even going so far as to create clubs. From Africa to America via Europe and Asia, focus on these unknown countries in underwater hockey. Fourth episode with South Korea.
Between three seas, temples and cherry trees bloom in the south of the Korean peninsula. Among these historical and natural treasures, another has sprung from the depths: an underwater hockey club. It was in 2019 that Edward Kim, back from Shanghai, introduced this sport to the land of calm morning. Edward discovered hockey during his time at the University of Pretoria over 20 years ago. However, at that time, he was far from imagining himself practicing it one day. “Maybe I was too immature to understand the art of the game.” It was only during his stay in China that he began to seriously embrace it and enjoy the sport. It is therefore convinced that he returns to his native country, seeking to found a club.
More than a club, a country
No trace of underwater hockey existed before Edward set out to start a club. He started from scratch and tried to promote hockey through social media and phone. After about five months, he manages to bring together up to 12 players in weekly training sessions and form the first club in the history of South Korea. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic which has inevitably slowed down the development of the club, the main difficulty according to Edward is finding swimming pools that are suitable for playing hockey. “Most Korean swimming pools are very shallow. Finding a suitable one is a big challenge.”
From Seoul to Jinhae via Daejeon, crossing the country is sometimes necessary to find the right pool. Despite this, Edward is not lacking in ambition and plans to put Korean underwater hockey on the map. “I would like to build a club strong enough to become a national team so that they can take part in competitions within a year.”
Participating in the Sea Games is one of the objectives that the initiator of hockey in South Korea wishes to fulfill, as well as that of convincing as many people as possible to try the sport that shapes his life. “I tried other sports like rock climbing, which I enjoyed, but nothing beats underwater hockey. You feel life when you’re in the water.” In addition to growing hockey in his home country, Edward plans to help others develop. He also hopes to have a coach for his club and to be able to benefit from swimming pools suitable for sport in his country.
With such determination, it should come as no surprise to see South Korea entering the world underwater hockey scene very soon.