Ben Tullis has been playing unicycle hockey for 31 years.

‘I’ve been playing five-a-side unicycle hockey for 31 years’

Cardiff Unicycle Hockey clubs trains beginners to become confident unicyclists

IF playing hockey on a unicycle seems like a new idea to you then you might be surprised to meet Ben Tullis.

Cardiff’s leading light in this niche world has been playing the sport for 31 years and has been organising Wales’ only unicycle hockey group for 10 of its 16 years.

Every week, Ben is among up to 25 people who meet on Sundays at the House of Sport to play a game using ice hockey sticks and a tennis ball.

Ben Tullis has organised Cardiff Unicycle Hockey for 10 of the club’s 16 years.

He has been playing the non-contact sport since it came to the UK in the mid-90s.

“It’s like a little family here really – we’re very supportive,” he said. “We go on unicycle rides sometimes with each other. There’s a real community feel to it.

The sessions also include training for total beginners who want to learn to ride a unicycle. Learners do not pay for sessions until they can ride the length of the rink unassisted.

Ben said: “We concentrate a lot on training beginning unicyclists in this club. We tend to split the session we have to concentrate on beginners who can’t unicycle for at least an hour each session.”

The club has around five to seven learners every week and, according to Ben, it takes around 12 hours for someone to learn to unicycle half-way across a room unassisted.

It took Alun Roderick, 58, around 10 to 12 hours to learn to ride after he joined the club following a failed unicycle attempt while living Australia.

“I had a go at riding a unicycle when I was living in Sydney… and failed miserably!,” he said.

“I bumped into somebody on the Taff Trail who was riding a unicycle and we got talking and, cut a long story short, I found this place.

“I came along because I wanted to put a right to that wrong, that I failed when I was in Australia, so I came along and persevered and finally managed to learn to ride a unicycle.”

It took Alun around 10 to 12 hours to learn how to ride a unicycle.

For Alun, the main draws of unicycle hockey are its physicality and sociability, and he encourages everyone to try it.

He said: “Come along give it a go. There’s plenty of kudos from riding a unicycle – you can tell your friends in the pub!”

The group is welcoming to new members of all ages and abilities, according to Ben.

He said: “The nice thing about it is there’s no separation by gender, age, you don’t really have an advantage by being anything other than skilled on a unicycle.

“You have husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters all playing on the same team or against each other.”

Daniel Robinson has been playing unicycle hockey for a little over a year and was initially drawn to the idea because he likes unusual sports.

The 27-year-old said: “I suppose I started coming because I like unusual sports and activities. I’ve always wanted to be able to unicycle, I have some friends that unicycled.

The club trains beginners in unicycle riding before they start playing hockey.

“I saw online that they play unicycle hockey here and they can teach us. I didn’t actually expect to be playing hockey at all. I just got hooked.”

It took him three weeks to ride a width of the court, but picking up a unicycle second hand allowed him to practice more.

For Daniel, there are always ways to improve in unicycle hockey and this continually challenging aspect is a big draw.

“Give it a go. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of doing something you don’t know how to do. If you’re attracted to unicycling, don’t worry about the hockey bit,” said Daniel.

  • To find out more about Cardiff Unicycle Hockey, click here