What do you get when you cross kayaking with water polo?
You get a very intense sport called canoe polo and Innisfail was recently the host of a extensive training camp for the athletes of the sport which is better known as kayak polo in North America.
“Obviously we play it in kayaks so it’s sometimes a bit confusing when we call it canoe polo,” said National Team Coach Scott Forbes. “People get a different impression of what it actually looks like.”
The game consists of two 10-minute halves with teams putting five players each into the water to throw the ball into a one by 1.5 metre net situated two metres above the water.
Upper body strength is a key asset in this game and even though games are short, there is plenty of action and it happens fast, said Forbes. “It takes a lot of explosive energy and fitness, quick fitness to win polo games.”
Fourteen-year-old Darius Ramrattan has been playing for about four years.
“You need good core, nice balance and just to be physically coordinated,” he said, outlining some of the key ingredients of a good kayak polo player.
The rules to the game are mostly designed for player safety so don’t expect to see a paddle to the side of the head of opposing players but you can use your boat to ram an opponent, said Forbes. Another key move is to push the other player off balance to disrupt the shot which leads to another skill and that is righting your boat once it has flipped over, putting you under water.
“That happens a lot in a game,” Forbes laughed.
The game relies heavily on teamwork in order to advance the ball towards the goal and Ramrattan says knowing your teammates is very important.
“You need to know what they will do and can do and then you will do well,” he said.
Many of the players at the Innisfail camp on Dodds Lake will be taking part in the Alberta Summer Games in Lethbridge and Ramrattan was on the team last year which won silver.
He said this year’s edition has some good talent and the potential to do well which he hopes they do but he also is keeping it all in perspective.
“If you get too competitive then it kind of ruins everything,” he pointed out. “ You just need to stay loose and enjoy yourself.”