Linda's poignant return in Octopush challenge

POOLSIDE: Members of Weymouth & Portland Octopush Club

POOLSIDE: Members of Weymouth & Portland Octopush Club

First published in Sport by

EIGHT members of Weymouth & Portland Octopush Club took part in an underwater hockey tournament in Southampton.

The friendly event at the Applemore Leisure Centre was well suited to the Weymouth players – Linda Ashmore, Kate Berry, Evie Gibson, Paul Hurrell, Alex Lawrence, Mitchell Melbourne, Anna Neish and Matt Walker – who are as diverse in age as in ability, ranging from novices to seasoned campaigners.

Underwater hockey (Octopush) is one of those rare sports that can be contested by both men and women, and with players of varying ability.

The tournament was organised so that all six competing teams were mixed together to create a level playing field.

Players wear as mask, fins and a snorkel and use a small stick, called a pusher, to flick a lead puck on the bottom of the pool towards the two-metre long stainless steel gullies (the goals) at either end.

After a closely fought competition, the two top teams met in the 15th and final match of the day.

Gibson and Walker were in one team with fellow Weymouth and Portland members Law-rence and Berry in the other.

The former eventually came out on top with Gibson helping her side to victory with two goals.

It was a particularly poignant event for Ashmore, who returned to the club she was instrumental in setting up back in the 1980s.

Ashmore is a veteran of the game having formed the first all-women team with the Aquatic Club in London in the 1960s, and also being the secretary of the first International Underwater Games Committee to agree inter-national rules ready for the first World Championships.

Ashmore and Walker set up the Weymouth & Portland Octopush Club three years ago and Ashmore thought once it was up and running she would bow out, leaving it to the younger players.

But the bug has bitten once again and she is very much an active member.

The club meet at Osprey Leisure Centre every Sunday (6-7pm) and welcome new members.

The first session is free and equipment can be provided.

For further information email linda.octo push@hotmail.co.uk or visit the governing body for the sport at gbuwh.co.uk

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