The Knysna Canoe Polo Club will host the 2018 South African Canoe Polo championships at the Knysna Waterfront over the Easter Weekend, 30 & 31 March and 1 April.
The inter-provincial championships are traditionally hosted by the major provinces that compete in canoe polo – KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and Western Province. This year, the turn of Western Province, it was agreed that Knysna should play host because of the enormous amount of effort that has been put into the sport locally and the great facilities that the Knysna Waterfront offers, explained organiser Nelson das Fontes.
Das Fontes said that eight teams from around the country will compete for the championship title in three divisions: Seniors, Under 21 and Under 16.
The games will be played on two pitches in the Knysna Harbour and will make for great spectator viewing. On Friday 30 March from 17:00 there will be warm-up games, and the championships will start on Saturday at 08:00. Sunday will see the finals being played from 08:00 until about midday.
According to Das Fontes, the sport, which is a discipline of the International Canoe Federation, has grown considerably in South Africa over the last decade and locally there are 20 seniors and 25 juniors who will compete in the championships.
“We have a strong group of both senior and junior players in Knysna and two of our under 21 boys - Coban-Dean Suttie and Daniel van Wyk - play for the SA National team, so we are hoping to upset at least one of the visiting teams.”
The local Canoe Polo Club is part of the Knysna Canoe Club and has been promoting the game seriously for the last four to five years, investing in boats and equipment, coordinating regular training practices, and participating in inter-provincial championships.
“The challenge for us is that we build up our young players and then they leave Knysna when they finish school,” says Das Fontes. “But we have resigned ourselves to being a teething ground for the teams in other provinces.
“There’s definitely a growing interest in the sport, because it’s not just fantastic for gaining confidence on the water and getting fit, but it’s also one of those sports which is great for families because seniors and juniors can practise together.”
Das Fontes said that he is grateful for sponsorship from the Knysna Waterfront and the Knysna Yacht Club and cooperation from the Featherbed Company which has agreed to park the iconic John Benn ferry at the Featherbed Terminal, from where it will operate for the weekend.
“I think that this will be a great spectator event and we’re hoping to draw lots of visitors to Knysna for the championships,” he said.
For more information, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KnysnaCanoePolo/