Horsham Unicycle Hockey Addicts
Now and again, we all think about taking up a new hobby. There’s no shortage of clubs here in the
Horsham district. You could sign up to a sports club, become embroiled in embroidery, target a rifle shooting club, set sail for a model boat club or satisfy a creative need for art.
But very few people ever think ‘is there a club that combines my two great loves of hockey and unicycling?’ But if you did want to try something different, then Horsham Unicycle Hockey Addicts (HUHA) will give you a warm welcome! The club meets at Weald School in Billingshurst every Thursday night for two hours of training and friendly matches. They also travel far and wide for tournaments, as one of ten registered unicycle hockey teams in the country.
Unicycle hockey is a team sport, similar to roller hockey, except that each player must be mounted on a unicycle to play the ball. Each team has five players and the goals are also set back from the end walls so that play can go behind them, similarly to ice hockey. Any stick which is legal for ice hockey other than that of a goalkeeper can be used and most teams play with a tennis ball.
Chris Baker, who founded HUHA nearly 20 years ago, said: “The basic rules are that you have to be in the opponent’s half to score and you can go behind the goal but you can pretty much do what you want so long as you are on a unicycle. So you can stop a ball with your hands if you have both feet on the pedals.”
If it all sounds a little too unusual to succeed, it may surprise you to hear that unicycle hockey is growing in popularity in Europe. Germany, for instance, has 53 teams, whilst Switzerland also has a healthy number of teams. But with the next nearest club to HUHA being London, competitive matches are an organisational nightmare.
With that in mind, the teams all meet several times a year to play in tournaments, with the Horsham club being amongst the best in the land. Despite this, the club does welcome beginners. Chris said: “We have three unicycles owned by the club so you can come and join in and see if you like it. Normally I would spend about 20 minutes showing someone the basics, such as how to mount.
“Once people are able to do that and feel balanced on the bike, it’s all about having the confidence to cycle as you would on a bike, and just practice. Some people, especially the youngsters, can pick it up quite quickly,
perhaps within a few hours, but it can take some people longer. Once you’re settled and comfortable we slowly introduce you to games, starting off in goal until the confidence increases.”
Sessions are held between 8-10pm on a Thursday at the Weald School, Billingshurst. If you would like to know more about HUHA, contact Chris Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org