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Aye Captain Alex

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When I joined the Singapore Underwater Hockey Club, I’ve heard his name being mentioned occasionally; especially when they talk about the Philippine underwater hockey (uwh) players. His name is Alex Colet. He is the Philippine Men’s Team Captain and one of the few people behind the training of good Filipino players from Manila.

I’ve seen him in the Asian Championships I joined and even at the Manila Invitational Tournaments. When I moved back to Philippines, he’s one of the players who welcomed me in the club where we both play now. His hockey stories are enviable and inspiring. Ask him about hockey and the tournaments he’s been to and you probably won’t have enough time to talk about his hockey adventures. He is very passionate about underwater hockey!

He got to know underwater hockey through a friend who plays it. He found playing without breathing as a challenge when he was starting. And probably, like many players, the oxygen deprivation got him hooked… call that CO2 addiction. 😉

 

The Challenges

He shared that starting uwh in the Philippines was a challenge. There was a constant concern on how to increase membership. So in 2002, together with the other members of the club, they established a hockey school summer program. He recalled: “We campaigned in the media (TV, radio, print and posters). We got 40 applicants. We did this every year from then on.”

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Alex and the Philippine Men’s Team; winning at the Manila Invitational

Some years they would have multiple recruitment programs for the hockey school. It was a successful move and until today they continue the school and see the benefits of having one. He relates that the success is because new players get to enter a class with fellow newbies and they get to play all at the same level of competence. In addition, the social camaraderie that develops among them strengthens the interest in the sport.

Another challenge he shared is on how to prepare his team for international tournaments. They would start their preparation by setting out hockey training program. A weekly published report is then sent out to the group to update the team of each other’s progress. Everyone gets to know the progress of each player.

 

Keep on Playing.

As a player, Alex revealed that he feels he has achieved what he wanted. He shared one of his most cherished tournaments, the Open World Cup in Medellin, Colombia in 2010. He participated with the Worlds Team which was composed of top Kiwi and Australian players and also American and Canadian players; and they won the bronze medal.

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Alex with his team at the Open World Cup 2010 in Medellin, Colombia.

He was also invited to join The American Men’s National Team uwh camps. In 2002, he was invited to join the Australian National Team camp; he was the only Filipino participant.

Few more feathers on his cap are 2 gold in the A-Division in the Pacific Coast Championships (PCC). In 1997, he led the Filipino Men’s team bag the silver medal at PCCs held in Hawaii. Add to these, the Philippine Men’s Team has been a consistent champion in the last 3 Asian Championships.

His next hockey adventure will be the coming World Championship in August 2013 in Eger, Hungary. With such highly anticipated competitive games, he prepares himself with some cardiovascular, strength and hockey-specific workouts. He spends time in the gym doing strength training; cycling and running for his cardio training. He plans to do hockey-specific workout in the pool few months before the tournament. He shares that training makes him enjoy the game and thus lets him continue to play as well; so even without a big tournament coming, he continues to train to stay hockey-fit.

 

Getting Hooked.

He likes the game for its uniqueness. To him, underwater hockey is not just a physical challenge but more so a never-ending mental challenge. He correlates the game to a chess game at a high speed, without breathing.

As for anyone interested and just starting with the sport, he advises them to learn the game in increments and to learn something every time they play… with a warning: Once you are hooked, you are addicted for life!

 

Aye, Captain Alex! Get to know more about the Polo Puck Pirates here.