Getting to know…Canoe Polo with Robbie Thompson

Name: Robbie Thompson

Position: Club President

Hometown: Leeds

Course: Physics 

Polo and canoeing, please explain…

It’s a straight cross. We have specially designed “Horse Canoes” and floating balls. It tends to take quite a while to teach the horse to paddle but we find Shetlands tend to pick it up rather quickly.

How does the sport work?

Two teams of five aim to get a ball into the opponents net, which is suspended two metres above the water. It’s a contact sport where pretty much anything goes – ramming, pushing and generally trying to drown the opposition are all considered good tactics. Nobody may hold the ball for more than 5 seconds, when it must be passed or dribbled. Dribbling is usually done by throwing the ball in front of the boat but can also be done just using paddles.

Has anyone ever smashed a member of the opposition round the head with their oar?

Yes. Constantly. We wear helmets and padding making it a very safe sport.

Is there any rivalry between you guys, the water polo guys, and the traditional horse polo crew?

Not really, there are occasionally issues with the water polo boys due to our relocation of their equipment but as long as we do it on the sly it doesn’t get out of hand.

The Nottingham polo club is somewhat famous for its annual naked calendar. Any plans for a rival canoeing version?

We could do but last time there were that many guns on show people got arrested.

Ben Bloom


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