Canoe polo has a tremendous opportunity to expand globally after a successful return to international competition following the Covid shutdown, according to ICF committee chair Greg Smale.

The ICF Canoe Polo committee met in Sweden to assess last year’s world championships in France, and to look at ways to capitalise on the growing popularity of the sport.

Smale said with the 2024 world championships back in Asia for the first time in 20 years, and with increasing interest from new countries, canoe polo was in a good place.

“Like all sports, the Covid pandemic hit us hard, forcing us to cancel competitions, and as a team sport, athletes could not even train together in many countries,” Smale said.

“But last year’s world championships in Saint Omer, and a fantastic response at The World Games, showed how resilient canoe polo is. They were two of our greatest events, with new teams, new technology, and capacity crowds. It has given us a great platform to build into the future.

“In 2024 our world championships will be in Deqing in China. This will be a great opportunity for Asian teams to really show how far they have come. It’s taken us far too long to return to this region, so we must really work hard to capitalise.”

Smale said the committee was also excited about developments in South America, and will utilise a partnership with Yupin Sports to drive development equipment to that region. In 2023 there will also be extra focus on strengthening coaches and referees for continental events around the world.

The canoe polo committee also welcomed former Dutch star Charlotte Bakkes to her first meeting as an advisor. Bakkes retired from international competition after last year’s world championships.

“My first committee meeting was a lot different to what I had expected,” Bakkes said.

“So many different topics were discussed and the committee jointly with the advisors are looking for proper improvements in the sport for the future, not just for Europe but for the whole canoe polo community.

“We had two very full days of discussions and the openly discussed different viewpoints and continental differences gave me a good understanding what this committee is all about.”

ICF canoe polo committee

Canoe Polo
#ICFcanoePolo #canoepolo