Fast-paced action at Canoe Polo tournament

Posted Jul 9th, 2018

Action on the calm waters of Welland Recreational Canal was fast-paced this weekend as canoe polo players battled it out in a lead-up tournament to the International Canoe Federation (ICF) World Canoe Polo Championships later this month.

Six teams from Toronto, Sudbury, New York, Montreal, Boston and Point-Claire competed over two days at Welland International Flatwater Centre in games lasting 20 minutes each.

"It's a fast-paced game … people are coming at each other with a bit of speed. The game is very short, and it's exciting to watch," said tournament organizer Liam Hendrick, of Greater Toronto Canoe Polo.

Hendrick wasn't exaggerating about the pace, speed and excitement.

As the whistle blew at the start of each of the two periods of the game, five players on either side of the 35-metre-by-23-metre pitch furiously paddled for the ball in the middle. The ball sat on a ring — to keep it from moving — controlled by officials on shore who would pull it out of the way just as players reached it.

Kayaks, specifically designed to be lighter and faster than typical kayaks, would crash into and sometimes ride up on each other as players battled to get control of the ball.

The kayaks, said Hendrick, are designed with bumpers on the nose and tail to prevent injury. Players are required to wear body protection, helmets and face-guards to ensure they don't injure each other.

Polo paddle blades also have thick, rounded edges to protect players, and are designed to be lightweight and give both good ball control and pulling power in the water.

Hendrick, a member of Canada's national team, said there aren't many injuries in the sport.

With nets at each end suspended about two metres above the water, players threw the ball by hand or flicked it with their paddle to a teammate or to take a shot on goal. Defending players used their paddles to block goal attempts and pushed over players on offenceDuring Saturday's games, Hendrick said the weather was perfect and said the pitch looked spectacular.

"Everyone that was involved in Welland did really well, it looks great," he said.

The pitch was set up City of Welland staff and the docks that make it up were built by students at Niagara Catholic District School Board's Launch Centre earlier this year.

While only one pitch was set up for the weekend, there will be four in total when the worlds — they run July 31 to Aug. 5 — come to Welland.

905-684-7251 | @DaveJTheTrib

905-684-7251 | @DaveJTheTrib


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Germany nearly won it all on the water after losing so much off of it. Only a 3-2 loss to Great Britain in the men's under-21 final prevented Germany from sweeping all four divisions at the 2018 International Canoe Federation Canoe Polo World Championships in Welland.


  • The 2013 Junior and U23 champs was the most wonderful experience for us in South Africa. Although our kayak community is relatively small, we are an intense group of loyal supporters. Following the build-up on your website as well as your Facebook and the photos on WIFC Facebook page was the highlight of my day. Not only mine but many of us shared links from early morning. Thanks for the effort and a huge congratulations on your achievement. The live streaming gave many of us goose bumps and the occasional lump in the throat. I checked many comments by parents all over the globe, don`t worry, we are all the same, from Japan, Canada, Africa. Thanks for sharing the wonderful experience. Today I could watch my son`s semi-final on Youtube, tonight we will watch it again and every day I will check Youtube for new uploads.
    Chris Van Den Bergh

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