Northern Ireland news

World's largest 'canoe polo' junior championship begins in Belfast

Teams have travelled from as far as New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Canada and Spain to take part. Picture by Declan Roughan

THE world's largest 'canoe polo' junior championship is taking place in Belfast with players from 25 countries taking part.

Teams have travelled from as far as New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Canada and Spain to the unique event, which is being held at the 'Let's Go Hydro' grounds.

Under-15s representing "Annalong - Kingdom of the Mournes" will take their United Nations couterparts. Under-18s and Under-21s will also take part, with the opening ceremony held at the south Belfast venue last night.

Canoe polo, also known as 'Kayak polo' combines boating and ball handling skills with a contact team game.

The ball can be thrown by hand, or flicked with the paddle to pass between players and shoot at the goal. Pitches can be set up in swimming pools or any stretch of flat water.

Pete Boyle of the Belfast Kayak Academy founded the event.

"We have won the British Championship with Ulster U18 three times and we wanted to play the best teams in the world," he said.

"We discovered that there was no International Junior event in the world so we decided to run one.

"We hope to show ICF that there should be a Junior World Championship and we think they are going to announce this one in the next few months. We are sure that this will be in Belfast."

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