Two underwater hockey stars represent Border
LOCAL brothers, Luke and Joel Hanner recently returned from Australia, where they represented South Africa in underwater hockey at the World Age Group Championships.
Luke (Grade 10) and Joel (Grade 11), both pupils at Merrifield College, were two of the eight new team members on the South African Under 19 men’s side, experiencing their first World Championships this year.
The two brothers were the only Border players selected for the South African U19 men’s side.
“It’s such an exciting sport which combines breathhold, fitness and skill. It’s very physically demanding,” Luke said.
Underwater hockey is played at the bottom of a pool, wearing a mask, snorkel and fins.
Players hold their breath and use a small stick to push a lead puck across the floor of a pool into a small metal tin.
Both starting out at the young age of five, Luke and Joel played their first U19 nationals at age 11 and 12 in Border’s development league.
“The games at worlds are played at a much quicker pace, which was a big learning curve.
“We were both very proud to be representing our country. It is particularly special as our dad played for the South African Masters team a few years ago,” Joel said.
Luke chipped in: “One of the awesome parts of the championships was the camaraderie between the teams from the different countries and all the great friends we made.”
With the South African U19 men’s side placing fifth at this year’s World Championships, the Hanner brothers hope to win medals for South Africa in the future.
“We are both still eligible for the U19 side in the next World Champs so we’re hoping to do well in Sheffield, in the UK, in 2019,” Joel said.
Making their school proud, Luke and Joel’s future goal is to one day represent the South African men’s team.
“Merrifield College is extremely proud of Luke and Joel’s achievements at such a high level, particularly as they both play in an adult side,” Merrifield executive head Dr Guy Hartley said.