Wollongong underwater hockey player chases world championship gold

Ben  Stepkovitch and Jack Hopkins
Ben Stepkovitch and Jack Hopkins

Towradgi teenager Jack Hopkins has a long way to go before replicating the underwater hockey feats of his mother Eden Brown.

TRAINING: Jack Hopkins training at Corrimal Pool ahead of the Underwater Hockey World Championships in Hobart.

TRAINING: Jack Hopkins training at Corrimal Pool ahead of the Underwater Hockey World Championships in Hobart.

But helping Australia win their first ever U19 men’s Underwater Hockey World Championship will be a good start.

That’s exactly what the 17-year-old is hoping to do when he represents his country at the Fourth World Age Group Underwater Hockey Championships 

The championships being held in Hobart from July 14-21 have attracted countries from around the globe including New Zealand, France, South Africa, Canada, Colombia, Turkey, USA, Argentina and Great Britain.

‘’In general Australia has probably been the most successful underwater hockey country in the world, winning more medals than any other country,’’ Jack said.

‘’But we haven’t been as successful when it comes to our under 19’s and junior hockey teams. I think we had an under 23’s team win silver last year and bronze is our best result for the under 19’s.

‘’Our coach seems to think we can change that this year and I agree that we’re good enough to win a gold medal this year.

‘’It is a stronger team than we’ve had in a long time and I think we’ve got a real shot of winning it all.’’

Jack is vice-captain of the 12-man Australian team which includes players from Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria.

This will be Jack’s first world championships. He previously represented Australia last year in the annual NZ/AUS Trans Tasman competition.

Jack, who has been playing underwater hockey seriously since he was 13-years-old, has represented Victoria and NSW in the U15 and U19 categories at national level.

The Wollongong Underwater Hockey Club member said seeing the enjoyment and success his mother has enjoyed in the sport made him want to follow in her footsteps.

‘’She has had a lot of success nationally and internationally, and has won many medals. I hope I can enjoy similar success,’’ Jack said.

And Jack is working hard to achieve his goals.

But undertaking the IB (International Baccalaureate) this year at Elonera Montessori School and juggling up to 10 training sessions a week is proving to be a ‘’massive challenge’’.

‘’It is difficult but enjoyable. It is not your everyday sport. It is something different and it is extremely challenging,’’ Jack said.

‘’Obviously playing a sport while holding your breath is something that is very hard to do and definitely rewarding and the social side of it is just great.’’

Jack trains primarily at Corrimal Pool.