HiMolde students Jakob Larhammer and Even Bjørnerem, aged 22 and 23 respectively, form an integral part of the highly successful Molde UVK team, and harbour high ambitions for future success.
By FRASER STURGESS and EDUARDO DRAPIER (photo)
Molde UVK compete in the obscure sport of underwater rugby, in which two teams attempt to score by placing a negatively buoyant ball into the opponents goal, with goals situated at the bottom of either end of the swimming pool. Deriving from Germany, the sport has grown particularly popular amongst the Nordic countries, and Molde UVK represents a strong European force, boasting 5 winning male teams of the Champions Cup, and one victorious female team. Furthermore, the club has enjoyed 10 Norwegian champions, split between the male and female teams.
Having being afford the opportunity to get up close and personal with the team whilst training, it was clear to see the tremendous levels of fitness required to play the sport, having to strategically manage oxygen intake and carefully selecting the right time to ‘dive’. The sport is highly physical and requires great strength, and is particular unique with players being unable to communicate, unlike other sports. Speaking with Jakob and Even, they shared insights into their experiences of the sport and what they hope to achieve moving forward.
Jakob, a student of the one year sports-course at HiMolde says;
«I train 6-7 times a week mixing strength, cardio and underwater rugby, with matches happening monthly. The sport is small, and therefore no one is in it for the money, which means it is fun and that’s what the training is all about. It is always fun to get better at something and to put in the work. Likewise, I have always enjoyed being in the water since I was a kid, and always enjoyed diving about the pool on early vacations.
I remember seeing a poster about Molde UVK and it just worked for me, and I have no interest in any other sports. My greatest achievement is winning the Champions Cup and European League, but also winning the Nordic Championship with the U-21 national team. Moving forward, I just want to train and enjoy the sport, and hope that it can continue to grow in the future, but I have also recently been drafted for the mens national team and am looking forward to this challenge.»
Even, a student of nursing at HiMolde, also shares his personal experiences;
«Usually I will train rugby 2-3 times a week, strength work 4 times and conditions 2-3 times, however I am currently injured. In one season (September-May) I will compete across lots of competitions, including the Norwegian Cup, Norwegian Championship, European League, Champions Cup and some national team competitions, meaning there is roughly 10 travels and hotels I have to fund myself.
However, I love this sport and everything that comes with it. It’s a complex sport, but I dislike that it’s not so audience friendly, and thus lacks funding. My inspiration came from my brother, who has won everything in the sport, and who is one of the best players in the world. And since I moved back to Molde 6 years ago, I have played ever since. I prefer this sport to more spectator friendly sports, such as football, as it is much ‘rougher’ and therefore requires highly complex skills to become great.
My greatest achievement within underwater rugby is winning the European Championship for the junior national team, a feat never previously achieved by Norway. Moving forward, the club hopes to reclaim the throne as the world’s best club, of which it has enjoyed for the last 10 years, but has recently lost due to some injuries. In addition, my aim is to become one of the world’s best players and continue to dedicate myself to the sport.»
Molde UVK train three times a week, however Thursday 7:30-9:30pm is open for beginners or new players who are interested in trying this unique, highly rewarding sport. The team train at Moldebadet, the local leisure centre in the city centre.