By Tom Noble, outfitsport.co.uk | Photos: Ann Playford
Even though we have loads of great tournaments across the UK, it’s sometimes worth shaking things up a bit and playing some different teams! So why not try going abroad to play against some of the competition out on the continent? You won’t be short of top quality Polo!
The GB squads go every year to experience of the pace of polo on the continent, however, you don’t have to be on the national team for it to be a worthwhile experience. British clubs are more than welcome across the continent as they bring a different style of play and add to the depth of every tournament they go to. So if you fancy a change of pace where the standard of play is high and the refs let a lot slide, then a European Tournament might be for you.
- Tournament: 28ème TOURNOI INTERNATIONAL de KAYAK-POLO de SENEFFE – CHARLEROI
- Organiser: Kayak Club Charleroi
- When: 6th and 7th of May
- Divisions: DIV 1, DIV 2, LADIES
- Entry cost: 120 EUR per team
- Shot clocks: Yes
- Length of game half: 10mins
The tournament is located in a small outlet to the Brussels-Charleroi canal in Seneffe. Right next to a sports complex that includes a rowing club, kayak club, sports hall and 3G football pitch, the event really has everything. With 6 pitches and quality facilities including heated showers, a bar and a barbecue, the tournament does not disappoint.
Due to the high volume of teams in the tournament and the lengthy ten minute halves, six pitches are used to keep the schedule running smoothly. The tournament was fantastic and it was clear that a lot of hard work went into making it such a great experience! Not only were Belgian men in ‘crew’ t shirts running around making everything run smoothly, but the threat of a 7 – 0 forfeit meant that no one dared be late for their game! This all contributed to an incredibly efficient set-up run with military precision.
In the first Division the style of play is incredibly fast. Referees have their work cut out for them, blink and you could miss crucial pass or a lightening fast foul! Canoe polo has a bigger following in other European countries, which has led to high skill levels and incredible depth across their squads and leagues. There is a lot of pressure to perform well and train hard, the result of which is a lot of tight knit club teams who can play like clockwork. On top of the great club teams on show, there are a number of national squads getting themselves ready for the gruelling international tournaments later in the season.
Overall the standard is very high and after two days of intense competition the better teams started to emerge. In the main event, the Division 1 final the U21 GB men with 5 of the squad that won at the Wold Championships came away with Gold after an action packed final. Also a big congratulations to the GB U21 ladies as well who came second, narrowly missing out on going to golden goal in the last few seconds of the game!
This was my first foreign tournaments and it was amazing to see the European polo scene first hand. The world of canoe polo is far bigger than what I have seen in the UK, and I understood that just by reading the team sheet! The atmosphere was incredible, and all of the players were just as focused on their polo as you would expect.
International tournaments are something that everyone should do not only is it great to see what the Polo in the rest of Europe is like, but its always great to play against new teams and get some more more game time!