Canoe polo a stunning visual sport

By Bruce Heidman, Sudbury Star

The action is frantic and physical, the skill set amazing, the visual impressive.

Canoe polo is big in Europe because of those reasons, and some of the best in Canada will be featured this weekend in Greater Sudbury when the Northern Water Sports Centre on the shores of Ramsey Lake hosts the national championships.

Teams of five athletes hit the water in specially designed kayaks that feature bumpers on either end, and for good reason as the boats are continually banging off each other. Whoever has the ball is fair game and can be legally pushed to the point of flipping upside down. More impressive, however, is when they pop back up still with the ball and get a shot on net, an elevated goal guarded by a goaltender with a paddle, which makes scoring difficult.

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“It is a very exciting sport, and the beautiful thing is there is lots of skill to control the boat and submerge, and it’s physical,” event organizer Gergely Lanci said. “You can use your hands to push and shove your opponent around. You have to wear a face mask and protection, but it is not violent and no intentional hitting. Pushing is the extent of it, however, that quite often results in overturning and losing your paddle, but they are able to hold onto the ball and roll back without a paddle and will score a goal.”

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