Trip Start Jun 22, 2008
219Trip End Jul 04, 2013
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We were invited to learn about the game and actually get a chance to play with members of the Philippine team. We met at the trophy room of the Manila Polo Club which is probably the most exclusive and expensive country club in Manila. We were served a "snack", which was more like dinner, to give us the energy to play. We had an overview of the rules and equipment, and some background on the history of the game. Apparantly, in the early days of the team they were at a handicap because the Filipinos were a lot smaller than the members of the international teams. And it was mentioned that the Singapore team has some larger expats that make the competition tough. Was this an effort to recruit some larger people for the Philippine team? Whatever the reason we were invited, we were off to the lap pool. Wearing our fins, masks and snorkels we jumped in the pool with our hockey sticks in hand. These sticks are not like ice hockey. They are about a foot in length and held in one hand. Holding with two hands is a foul!
The members of the hockey team gave us lessons on proper swimming technique for getting to the pool bottom quickly and for manuvering the puck while staying close to the bottom. They taught us to pass and block. We practiced over and over until it was announced that we would play an actual game. We all thought we were doing pretty well practicing our moves until the game started. The two teams lined up at opposite ends of the playing field. The puck was placed in the middle and when the game began both sides swam for the puc as quickly as possible. It was all arms, fins and bodies. Any strategy we talked about went out the window quickly. The larger and more aggressive guys were like underwater buses. A couple of times Jane was able to get her stick in contact with the puck and move it but mostly she stayed out of the way to keep from getting pummeled. With all the activity it didn't take long to get out of breath so even if you got your stick in contact with the puck at some point you had to abandon the effort and surface for air.
Russ's team won easily and he was right there in the middle of the frenzy getting his mask kicked off more than once. When it was announced we would take a break before trying again, Jane saw her chance for escape and changed back into her clothes while no one was paying attention. Others appeared to have enough of an experience as well and the next game ended up being the pros only. So if the point of this experience was to recruit some large expat teammates, that probably isn't going to happen. But we did have a good time and got to experience something new.