National competition offers a chance for youth to learn
The Cottonwood Kayak Club of Innisfail youth team placed silver this weekend at the national canoe polo championships hosted at Dodd’s Lake.
“It felt really good,” said team member Shannon Wagers, 12, of the silver win. Flaming Embers from Edmonton Whitewater Paddlers placed gold and Wapiti B Youth placed bronze.
The local youth team is made up of players aged 11 to 16 and they are heading to the Alberta Summer Games at the end of the month.
“I think the team is working better together,” said Darius Ramrattan, another youth member, of the experience.
In total 120 canoe polo athletes were at Dodd’s Lake last week to participate in camps as well as compete in the national tournament July 14 and 15.
“We had a great week of competition,” said Narsh Ramrattan, president of the Cottonwood Kayak Club. “Not just competition but workshops as well.” He said coaches for national teams and club teams worked with all of the different players, not just their own teams, leading up to the tournament on the weekend.
“Everybody rotated through the different coaches and it was a fantastic opportunity for the youth preparing for the Summer Games.”
This was the first time the club hosted the national event and Ramrattan said the feedback was all positive.
“The feedback we heard was this was one of the best. We’ve got a fantastic venue and the campground was so close. Kayaking events are not well known for being on time and it was very well organized,” he said.
Besides the youth, there was also the Club A, Club B, Open and Women’s division. In the Open division Canada’s men’s team A placed gold with the B team placing bronze. A mix of coaches who coach the provincial teams played in this level and placed silver.
Club A, a mixed bunch of team Canada players and other club players competed. The Great White Buffalo team from the Edmonton Whitewater Paddlers placed first, the Wapiti A team placed silver and the Missasauga Canoe Polo team placed bronze.
The Sundre Paddlers placed gold for the Club B division with The Boys from the Edmonton Whitewater paddlers placing silver and a team of coaches from the Whitewater Paddlers in Edmonton, Crunch, placing bronze.
In Women’s, the W Mix placed gold, Canada Women place silver and USA Women placed bronze.
Ramrattan said in total about four teams from the U.S. came up to compete.
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” he said, adding that it wasn’t until Sunday that rain starting to come down during the finals.
“The only down is the ceremony and awards were handed out under a tent,” he said of the minor annoyance.
Local businesses and the Town of Innisfail were instrumental in sponsoring and making the event take off as well as it did, he added.