Video: Hockering footballers win Swamp Soccer World Cup

When you are playing football knee deep in mud, there are bound to be a few dirty tackles.

But being pushed into a murky puddle, finding your foot stuck in a bog and having to be pulled free by your team mates are all part of the fun of swamp soccer.

And it certainly did not put off the players from Hockering Football Club when they romped to victory in the game's World Cup in Scotland.

The 12-strong squad of men and women overcame five international opponents over two days to win the title in the relatively-new sport, which involves playing six-a-side football in a swamp or bog.

It was the second year in a row that the Norfolk team had entered the annual competition, which this year took place in Edinburgh and also involved players from Poland, China, Denmark and Russia.


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Just four of the same players remained in the Hockering squad and, for the other unsuspecting eight, what greeted them was a bit of a shock.

Tora Oetgen, Hockering FC secretary, said: 'It's really hard work. Even watching it you don't really realise how difficult it is. You can spend five minutes trying to get the ball only to kick it and find it doesn't go very far. You put all your effort into it and it only moves a couple of inches.'

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The squad was made up of players from the village's three men's teams and one women's team.

Wearing white overalls – which soon came off once they became weighed down with mud – they made an impressive start against a Scottish team, winning 7-2.

Tim Mann and Ricky Loxley, who were competing in the championship for the first time, impressed their teammates as they effortlessly ran through the knee-deep mud as if they were back on home turf at Heath Park.

But it was not always so easy.

Miss Oetgen, who lives in Norwich city centre, said that getting back up after falling – or even being pushed – over was a challenge in itself.

The 30-year-old, whose partner Adrian Sparrow also played, said: 'If you're fighting for the ball and one person notices the other one starting to wobble, they will push them over.

'Once you get your hands and feet stuck in the mud you have no choice but to roll over on to your front and try to push yourself up.'

As she fought a giggling fit, Hockering's youngest player, Codie Henderson, found herself being dragged out of the mud by her team mates after her foot became stuck in the mud during one match.

Swamp soccer originated in Finland and the first tournament was held in 1997. There are now more than 200 teams competing in men's, women's and mixed events.

A swamp soccer pitch costs around �2,000 to create, with the field needing to be dug up to produce a bog, so the Hockering group was unable to get any practice in before heading to Scotland last weekend.

The team secretary, who plays for Hockering FC ladies, said there was little the players could do to prepare, although their ability to think tactically did come in handy.

Miss Oetgen said: 'If you see someone with the ball, you sometimes give them a couple of minutes so they use up some of their energy – then you tackle them.'

Over the course of two days, Hockering also beat Edinburgh City Youth Cafe, No Name Yet and Blackhall Bandits to book a place in the final against Mudderwell.

After the most tiring match of the weekend, the Norfolk players – aged 17 to 38 – were able to celebrate a 2-0 victory.

'As the final whistle blew, the team collapsed on each other in the mud,' said Miss Oetgen.

Any men or women interested in joining Hockering Football Team – and being in with a chance of joining the swamp soccer squad in 2012 – can contact Tora Oetgen on 07872 831128.

Go to www.edp24.co.uk for swamp soccer video footage.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk0

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