Canoe Polo, also known as Kayak Polo, is one of the competitive disciplines of canoeing, known simply as “polo” by its aficionados. Polo combines canoeing and ball handling skills with an exciting contact team game, where tactics and positional play are as important as the speed and fitness of the individual athletes.
The game requires excellent teamwork and promotes both general canoeing skills and a range of other techniques unique to the sport. Each team has five players on the pitch (and up to three substitutes), who compete to score in their opponents goal which is suspended two meters above the water. The ball can be thrown by hand, or flicked with the paddle to pass between players and shoot at the goal. Pitches can be set up in swimming pools or any stretch of flat water.
The canoes are specifically designed for polo and are faster and lighter than typical kayaks. Paddles are very lightweight and designed with both pulling power and ball control in mind. Nose and tail boat bumpers, body protection, helmets and face-guards are all compulsory.
The birth of the modern sport could be considered to be the demonstration event held at the National Canoe Exhibition at Crystal Palace, London, in 1970.
In response to the interest created at the Crystal Place event, the first National Canoe Polo sub committee of the British Canoe Union was formed, and it was this committee that developed the modern framework of the game. The National Championships were held every year at the National Canoe exhibition, and this activity led on to the inclusion of Canoe Polo in the demonstration games at Duisburg, Germany in 1987.
The game is played in many countries throughout all inhabited continents, for recreation and serious sport. The sport has World Championships every two years and European, Asian, African, North American and South American Championships held every year in between World Championship years. Internationally the sport is organized by the Canoe Polo committee of the International Canoe Federation, as one of the disciplines of the sport of canoeing.
The game is often described as a combination of water polo, basketball and kayaking. The tactics and playing of the game are not unlike basketball or water polo but with the added complexity of the boats, which can be used to tackle an opposition player in position with the ball, or jostle for position within 6 metres of the goal.
An interesting sport for people of all ages. It’s gonna be a great experience!