Spotlight: Octopush

There are many mysteries in life which, despite humanity’s perseverance, have yet to be answered. Octopush is such a mystery. No matter how much the sport has grown since its humble beginnings in the early 50s (thank you Alan Blake, oh glorious creator), it’s still referred to as two things: 1. A made-up sport; 2. A misspelling of the word ‘octopus’.

Allow me to attempt to answer that mystery by describing octopush in two words: underwater hockey. Yes, underwater hockey. And no, it’s not simply hockey players plunged to the depths of a swimming pool, much to peoples’ imagination. It plays out something like this: Two teams of six (traditionally four to make a grand total of eight players, hence the word ‘octo’) attempt to score against one another by pushing a weighted puck around at the bottom of a pool with a miniature stick up to a length of 300mm.

Of course, as much as we don’t doubt that some of you readers can hold your breath extensively, you’ll need some breathing equipment to give you at least a fighting chance. To do so, a snorkel is used, which is attached to an ostentatious mask to aid your vision during play. For navigation, you’ll need a pair of fins which, if you’ve never used fins before, is certainly a new experience.

The tricky part about octopush, or any water sport for that matter, is learning how to focus on your technique whilst still being focused on playing the game. Hopefully, unless you’ve been scared off by the very concept of an underwater sport, you may be interested in doing that. If so, I’ll attempt to build on that spark of interest you’re harbouring inside.

York, like an increasing number of universities including Oxford and Plymouth, to name a few, has its very own Octopush club. Since 2006, we’ve been reeling in people from all different types of backgrounds (swimmers and non-swimmers) in the hope of metamorphosing them into budding octopushers.

And how do we do that? It begins with one of our committee members (professionals, if you will) teaching you the basics of the game; followed by a quick tutorial session on how to use your equipment effectively; then, you’ll be thrown (sometimes literally), into the deep end and go straight into a match. Much to your delight, this first session and the next session are completely free. And, because we’re so darn selfless, equipment is provided. All you need is a towel, a pair of shorts (or a bathing suit, ladies) and an old pair of socks. Or a new one, we don’t like to discriminate.

Now that this mystery has been solved, how can you get involved? Well, we train on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Sports Village, 9-10pm, and on Saturdays at Yearsley pool from 4-5pm. All you need to do is turn up and be as enthusiastic as you can be.

We also take pride in having as much fun (if not more) as any other society. Whether that be through a drink at The Glasshouse after our Monday and Tuesday sessions, a bite to eat at the Black Bull after our Saturday session, or our various socials during the term (dressing up as bees at the Student Nationals competition is a personal favourite), there’s fun to be had just about everywhere.

Finally, if this Spotlight hasn’t enticed you into playing octopush, then I think, on behalf of UoY Octopush, I need to work on my enticing skills. Or, you can keep a close eye on us by following us on Twitter (@UoYOctopush) and adding us (University of York Octopush Club) on Facebook. That’ll do nicely.

Adrian Horan
Adrian was previously a freelance writer for Vision before he went on to become News Editor for two editions. He recently retired from York Vision, having written as Tech Editor for three editions.