We recently sat down with three members of the Union’s Canoe Polo club, Tom Ladyman (President), Olivia Reed (Club secretary) and Erik Meilak, to find out what the world of canoe polo is all about.

For those who are new to the sport, canoe polo “is a cross between basketball, netball and rugby” or “water polo…in kayaks”. It’s a 5-a-side sport, with no specific positions (such as keeper) so everyone is able to move around and help each other. Contact is allowed, “players can push each other to get the ball, but there’s rarely a bad injury” explains Tom.

We asked Erik, Tom and Olivia why they first got involved with Canoe Polo:

Tom – “I actually didn’t think it was a real sport, so that’s why I wanted to try it!”

Olivia – “I went along to a taster session and really enjoyed it”

Erik – “I also tried it at a taster session. It’s one of those sports not many people have heard of, but when they see it in action they think it looks great!”

The teams enter lots of competitions throughout the year, including weekend competitions across the UK and international matches in the summer. Last year the first team (the Southampton Sloths) achieved second place in the National League and the National Championships. The club’s Freshers’ teams do well too, often placing first or second in their competitions.

The club has grown over the past year, and Olivia explained how the team has a good gender balance: “we are the only Students’ Union in the country with two women’s teams”. There’s a great social side too, with ice skating, climbing, board games and pancake nights just a few examples of what the club have been up to this year.

Want to get involved? Good news: beginners are very welcome to come along to a taster session and can join at any time of the year. No previous experience is necessary of canoe polo, kayaking or water polo – safety and key skills are all covered before you get in the pool. All you need is a swimming costume and plenty of enthusiasm!

Fun fact: Wondering how sloths are connected to Canoe Polo? This is all down to a team member feeling a little sleepy one day and being called a sloth – from this, a new logo and name was born!

Find out more at Facebook, Twitter and on the Canoe Polo website.

Photos: Thanks to SUCP for use of their photos.

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