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The first mention of the game of canoe polo in France can be dated to an article referring to an event on the 23rd June 1929 at Chalifert, where, during a nautical meeting of the Canoe Club of France which was the predecessor of today’s French Federation Canoe Kayak, ( F.F.C.K.) a competition of “canoe balle” was refereed by a certain ‘Monsieur Jaubert’. Not much else was recorded to give clearer insight into the game’s origin in France.

The participants however were using presumably, open canoes and not kayaks to play this game. 

CANOE BALLE (Photo courtesy of the Secret Canoe Polo Society)

An interesting document dated 1935 in the magazine “La Rivière” (edition number 271/1935 pages 89-90) lays down a set of rules of the game of “Canoe Balle”, realized by “a group of experts divided equally between players and referees of rugby and water polo”. This authority declared that its intentions was to create a new style of competition and not less, a Canoe Ball Federation in the future. There was also a written 13 point set of rules which would govern the game. (Length of field between 60 and 100 meters, width as of the river, teams of 3, 4, or 5 players, rules of play, refereeing, etc).

With the rules of the game in 1935, there was great enthusiasm amongst the players to practise this new discipline which was mainly played on public holidays and during important events. In the year 1943, new rules were drawn out by Marcel Stibbe and shortly later the C.C.F. became the K.C..FF., and consequently, the game of Canoe Ball evolved into Kayak Ball. This change also marked the prominence of the use of kayaks over canoes. In 1947 in Perigueux, according to a certain Daniel Bonigal, a tournament was held on the canal of the Marne, between teams from various regions around the Paris area. Around 1951, due to the reduction of events organised during public festivities, interest in the practise of kayak polo was severely reduced.

In 1970, a canoe instructor by the name of René Tragarò who visited the International Boat Show at Crystal Palace, London, re-discovered the game and exported it to the Breton Region of France. 1978-1979 were the years when the re-entry of kayak polo established a firm hold in the country, starting from the Breton Region. René Tregarò, now regional league technical adviser, together with several clubs, organised a number of matches during various local town festivals. The rules of the game now resembled those used by the British. These games becoming more frequent then evolved into small regional championships.

In 1981, on return from a trip to the Boat Show at Crystal Palace in Britain, he brought back with him a film of the games held there, as well as a set of rules of the game, which he translated into French. The following games were so spectacular and enjoyable that many athletes were motivated to practise this sport. The next year, a team from Normandy was invited to play at Crystal Palace. According to the players, this was the year that the game entered officially into the country as a sporting discipline.

In February 1983, players from the region of Normandy, getting news of the match between the team from Breton and Britain, consequently sent their own team to play at Crystal Palace, returning home with great enthusiasm to get involved with what was happening on the other side of the Channel. The name “Kayak Polo” was officially accredited in France during a meeting of the CCFF in September 1983 in Paris.

In 1984, during the French wild water championships at Thonon-Les-Bains, the French Federation delegated Francois Parmentier, at that time regional technical adviser for the Region of Dauphine Savoy, to organise a kayak polo tournament entitled “French League Cup” as a new spectacular discipline which could help in the athletic preparation of slalom and downriver racing.

After seeing the success of the League Cup, the F.F.C.K. decided to organise a championship for kayak polo clubs. The French kayak polo championships saw its real debut in 1986, with 8 clubs selected for the first division, to play home and away matches. There was also a second division championship made up of other teams. In 1987, the French Federation clarified rules and regulations for refereeing. From 1988 onwards, a major diffusion of canoe polo teams spread around most of the regions of France.

In 1992, France also adopted the new I.C.F. Rules.

France is currently one of the top teams in International competition events. In the World Championships held in Japan in 2004, they came 4th in the Men’s category. 


#3 Guest 2009-11-07 23:20
:) grande articolo!
venite questo weekend per il torneo a praga?
a presto
#2 the deacon 2009-11-07 23:19
In return for your compliments, I would like to add that it was a pleasure to have my article published on the best canoe polo wesite on the WWW today!
Sincerely, I would not have chosen any other!
#1 TheMasterG 2009-11-07 23:18
Wow, I just got through reading this properly from start to finish, excellent!
Great job Reza :thumbup:

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