Why I Play series: Underwater hockey player Ena Ng

Why I Play is a fortnightly column showcasing the stories of people who enjoy playing sports. Want to see your sport featured? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

SINGAPORE — Not many people would quit their jobs and migrate just to play the sport with the team they love, but Ena Ng did just that to compete in the 2016 Underwater Hockey World Championships.

After receiving the news that Singapore was going to send a full women’s team for the competition, Ena made the decision to leave her physiotherapy job in Australia and move back to Singapore.

She has since grown to love the sport even more, and is now training and hoping to participate in the upcoming 2019 SEA Games in Manila.

Why I Play: Underwater hockey player Ena Ng (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)
Ena Ng (right) was introduced to underwater hockey in 2010. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)

How did you get involved in this sport?

I was first introduced to Underwater Rugby in 2010 when I went over to Sydney for a short holiday, and visited my childhood swimmer friend, Khee Chia How, who is also the founder of First Asian Team Underwater Rugby.

Back in Singapore, there was only underwater hockey then. I tried both sports for the first time and instantly fell in love with them. :)

Which muscle groups are most involved in this sport? Which parts of your body ache the most after a training session or match and why?

It is a whole body workout. Main muscle groups would be quads, heart and the lungs. Usually my legs would be the most tired after a hard session of training.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have of this sport? What kind of reactions do people get when you tell them you play this sport?

Most people think we play our sport with scuba gears, and with a long stick. And when we tell them that we do it purely with holding our breath, they assume we would have to stay down for at least a minute or two. In reality it is probably only 10 to 15 seconds.

We move the puck to our teammate and pop up for a breath before going back down to support your team again. They get quite intrigued on how the game is played as they find it obscure and unable to visualise it.

Why I Play: Underwater hockey player Ena Ng (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)
Ena Ng quit her physiotherapy job in Melbourne to return to Singapore and train for the Underwater Hockey World Championships in 2016. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)

In playing this sport, what has been your most memorable experience?

The wins and losses of some of the most important games. The bonds that hold us dearly are due to those factors too. It is also nice when we meet up with old friends from all over the world and get together to play great hockey again.

Your most heartbreaking?

When I heard about the road traffic accident that injured our captain just before the 2015 Asian Underwater Hockey Championship.

Share an inspiring story you have of a tournament or an experience with teammates that made you love this sport even more.

When the full girls team decided to commit to going to the 2016 Underwater Hockey World Championships held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. We finally had enough girls to form a full team of 10 with one reserve player.

I decided to quit my job in Melbourne to move back to Singapore to train with the team. The amount of sweat and sacrifices we have all gone through together to go to Worlds was one of the most memorable because when we got there, we were so nervous to be playing with world-class hockey players and wondered how we would fare. Since we were not there to win it, we went in without too much worries and just play our hardest for each game.

The players there were such a nice big and welcoming family that they were even coming up to us to give us pointers on how well we did and what we could do to continue to improve. That was definitely a very heartwarming experience to feel that big family love, even though we were technically rivals.

The trainings together, the amount of late night discussions we have and heart-to-heart talks about underwater hockey leading to and after the world championships is something that made me love this sport so much more. I am looking forward to many more trainings, and heart-to-heart talks in the lead up to SEA games 2019 in December at Manila.

Why I Play: Underwater hockey player Ena Ng (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)
When playing underwater hockey, Ena Ng usually holds her breath underwater for about 10 to 15 seconds. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)

Was there a time you felt like walking away from the sport? What made you stay?

Yes, there was a moment in time which i might have wavered, but the bond with the girls team and the love of the sport made me stay on.

What was the worst injury you’ve experienced?

A dislocated shoulder from playing underwater rugby while I was in Australia caused weakness and vulnerability to my shoulder at times when it goes into an awkward position. Since then, I have started taping my shoulder whenever I play.

However, due to the intensity of the World Championship schedule, my shoulder weakened and subluxed (partially dislocated) during one of the important games and I had to get my teammate who was on the sideline to quickly tape it up even further during a time out.

What life lessons has this sport taught you?

It has taught me the importance of learning and adapting according to situations, the importance of open communication between players and that if you have the passion, the annoying fitness part can easily be overcome.

How can people get involved if they’re interested in this sport?

We have new players' introductions on Tuesday evenings at Queenstown Swimming complex from 7-9pm. First timers get to try for free and if they get hooked onto the game, it would then be a $7 per session for non-members and $6 for members.

Contact us via Facebook Messenger and we will ensure that we will arrange for a trainer to be there ready to give you the intro.

Can you tell me in one sentence why you love this sport and fill in the blanks of this sentence.

After scoring a goal and resurfacing to the deafening cheers, it gives me an adrenaline rush like no other and this is why I play

Why I Play: Underwater hockey player Ena Ng (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)
Why I Play: Underwater hockey player Ena Ng. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian)