I must admit that although I was a volunteer at the Underwater Hockey European Championship recently, I barely had known about the sport itself before. As I look back, it was a really lucky coincidence that I heard a radio program a few weeks before the competition.
As I arrived to the venue, the rules were everything, but clear in my head. Even later on, when I handled an underwater camera, it still seemed to be chaotic.
Chaotic but magical, I would say. Because something was in the atmosphere of the event that made it unique. It wasn’t ‘love in the air’ but wherever I went, I immediately felt like I was part of the team.
For example, the referees. Maybe due to the young average age, it was really easy for me to get on well with them. Whether it was about passing by and giving a high five or hanging out together after the matches, they were in with it.
But the most surprising was the attitude of the athletes. I can hardly imagine anything slightly similar could happen in any other sport. On the one hand, they handled the whole event as an opportunity to have fun. Meanwhile on the other hand, the preference was on the sport and preparation.
I have experienced it myself, how friendly the competitors are. I carried the board of France at the opening ceremony so I was a bit behind the scenes with them. They were joking with the other teams and, of course, with each other. Later on, when we met again, they remembered me and greeted me in advance! It was simply surprising to me. Extraordinary. No words.
This is what makes – in my eyes – underwater hockey exceptional.