Amidst flashing paddles and crashing water, the ten canoe polo players in face guard helmets and body armours look like aquatic gladiators. But the hard-hitting action justifies every piece of protective gear that they wear. From the first blow of the referee’s whistle the two teams of five fight over possession of the ball, no player being allowed to keep it for more than five seconds before passing it to a team mate with hands or paddles, ... or before scoring a goal. Tackling a ball-holding player including his or her high-tech kayak is permitted!
Canoe Polo features in The World Games 2013; check the event calendar for details about when it is scheduled.
DID YOU KNOW THAT...?
Naval battles with a ball ...
The thrills and spills of the fast-paced ball game convinces everyone taking in the action. The sleek kayak hulls clash relentlessly. At times, the scenes bear strong resemblance to those in a naval battle. And all spectators concur that canoe polo is certainly not a sport for wusses or athletes squeamish about getting their hair wet. There are good reasons for the players to wear helmets with a facemask and a body protection.
Rules in a nutshell ...
The game is played on an area of 35 by 23 meters, with goals of 1.5 by 1 meter hanging 2 meters above the water. Playing time for a game is twice 10 minutes, it can be interrupted by a referee for a time-out. Play starts with the players, 5 on each team, in their kayaks at their own goal line and the ball in the center of the field of play. The players of both teams seek to get possession of the ball which can be played by hand or by striking it with the paddles.
The opponent is allowed to tackle the player in possession of the ball. And this explicitly includes the player's boat. To make the sport interesting and fast, a player is not allowed to keep the ball for more than five seconds, after which he must surrender it to a teammate.
It all started when ...
The roots of canoe polo are found in the other disciplines of canoeing. In the early thirties, canoeists from a number of European countries sat in their kayaks and started to toss balls to each other. Inevitably, a new game was born!
But having its roots in different countries meant that the sport developed in quite a few different directions. It took until 1986 to have the International Canoe Federation's (ICF) Canoe Polo Committee come to life. Official ICF rules governing international canoe polo were introduced in 1990. And in 1994 Great Britain had the honor to host the first world championships. Since then ICF Canoe Polo World Championships have been held biennially.