By Joe Leach
Manx Paddle Sports information page.
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Sometimes, the ball just hangs painfully in the air. I’ve played the moment over and over since the 26th of April, the British Universities Canoe Polo tournament in Nottingham. Trent lash a second goal into the roof of our net. For the second year in a row Bangor were knocked out of the BUSA canoe polo tournament in the semi’s, by the champions. Losing more narrowly than in 2008 and us having a team largely made up of final year students made it an even harder pill to swallow.
After getting my first taste of canoe polo in Ballakermeen swimming pool with Manx Paddlesports, I was really keen for more. Studying at Bangor University has been a great opportunity to take my paddling in a different direction in canoe polo. For those who don’t know, it could be described as rugby crossed with basketball, in kayaks. For a more thorough explanation see link;
From a coach’s point of view, Canoe Polo is incredible. I’ve watched absolute novices become skilled paddlers in no time. It seems that the clutches of icy December water give stronger motivation for learning to brace and roll than any coach could. The distraction of the ball and the game also seems to encourage a deeper learning of paddle strokes to a subconscious level of competence. Besides all that, it’s really good fun.
Bangor University Canoe Polo pulls together paddlers from all over the UK, students, locals and paddlers of many disciplines. Given a tough deal financially, the club makes up for what it can’t buy with a huge love of the game and mutual resolve to make the best of what we have. We travel to Llandudno Pool where we have managed without goals for the last academic year. We get 1 pool session a week but consolidate that with many hypothermic lake sessions in Llanberis.
The club caters for all paddlers and fields a variety of teams; Old Boys, Second team, Ladies team and the Open/First team. Bangor doesn’t boast any polo superstars, we take our strengths from solid team cohesion and a physical pitch presence. Bangor’s improvement in recent years has been rapid with the first team’s progress through university rankings steep.
1st team BUSA results:
2006 - 15th,
2008 - 3rd,
2009 - 3rd
2010 - ?
Our session this year has seen frequent appearances from many sea paddlers including Trys Morris, Phil Clegg and Simon Osborne. It may be for many of us sea paddlers, that polo fills a competitive void in our kayaking. In polo, fast, intense paddling action is readily accessible, and especially in the pool, it’s a great way to keep skills sharp through the colder months. For any paddlers I would strongly recommend throwing a ball around on the water, for anyone wanting to take on a new discipline of paddling I couldn’t recommend polo strongly enough. To borrow another university club slogan, polo is kayaking with balls.
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