(7 votes, average 4.29 out of 5)


In the U.S.A. there is an obscure reference to canoe polo being played at the Nantahala River, North Carolina, on the 5th July 1980. The basic rules were that ‘the paddle was for propulsion only and not for ball play’. The goals were similar to those used for water polo. There is no news if this game was just a one-off or there was any further development of the game. 

CANOE POLO IN THE US (Photo courtesy of the Secret Canoe Polo Society) 

In 1996, a young Italian canoe polo player, Ezio Ambrosetti, from the Roman club Mariner Canoa Polo, immigrated to Austin, Texas, and settled there. At that time the game of canoe polo was practically nonexistent throughout the country. In 1997 he got together with some Texan canoeists who had heard about this sport, and started to teach them the rules and tactics of the sport which he had been playing back home. These rules were obviously the “paddle only” style which at that time was in practice in Italy.

They built two floating goalposts made out of aluminium and PVC for the game. Within the next spring, they were training weekly in the river-cum lake which flowed through Austin. Even now after 7 years into the sport, they still train every week on Wednesdays for all 12 months of the year. At that time Ezio Ambrosetti was the only person in the whole of Southern U.S.A, who had a plastic BAT kayak. All the other athletes played polo regularly with river kayaks, some with sit-on-top kayaks, and one player had a Canadian open touring canoe!

He tried to teach his companions the knowledge of the “paddle only” game, because to him it was a clear advantage in knowing how to use the paddle correctly in contact with the ball, and also had its great advantages. This rule of thumb is also a valid technique even with the “new” rules of today.

At the end of 1997, Brad Carr from Tennessee, who had studied at a University in Canada, and had learnt to play canoe polo when he was there, had circulated a message on various canoe and kayak forums on the Internet, looking for people who wanted to create an American National Team to play at an International Tournament in Edmonton, Canada, in March 1998. Various people from all around America responded, including Ezio Ambrosetti, and they all agreed on meeting directly in Edmonton the following year in March.

Without ever having met and trained together, the team formed up in Edmonton, and participated in the tournament. Surprisingly, this newly formed ‘wonder team’ lost only in the final, to what was considered practically Canada’s National Team.

That first group of American players was composed of players from Tennessee, Boston, England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Italy. The names of these players were Brad Carr, Tim Johnson, Tom O’Brian, Marty Bell, Andrea Fear, Kirsty Leveloff, David Wright, Natalie Bartley, Angela Killian, Elena Ramirez and Jakie Hoglund, and Ezio Ambrosetti. All these players lived in the U.S.A. for different reasons and all of them had learnt to play in some other parts of the world. This infusion of people was practically the basis of the first National team of the U.S.A.

The same year, 1998, the decision was taken to participate in the World Championships in Portugal, with a Men’s team and a Women’s team to represent the U.S.A. In April 1999, the first National Championships was held in the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club in Gainesville, Georgia.

Teams participating in these Championships have grown from an initial 8 in 1999 to roughly 30 in the year 2004, divided into Men’s, Women’s and Junior Categories. The National Championships are now held yearly. The U.S.A. was represented in the World Championships in Brazil in 2000, in Germany in 2002, and in Japan in 2004.

Currently, there are about 8-10 canoe polo clubs in the country which are active throughout the year. There are also several clubs which are only seasonally active. All these teams have a vast stock of canoe polo boats made from plastic, RFG and carbon fibre, which have been imported from Europe, Canada and Australia.

Ezio Ambrosetti is still developing canoe polo in the state of Texas and the entire South. With his friends of the Texas Canoe and Kayak Club, they are currently organising and developing lessons for youngsters in the local Middle School, with the hope that some of these kids will decide to continue in the sport and train all year round, with intentions to be part of the future National team.

Many Americans, as do the Canadians, and French, still call the game by the name of Kayak Polo.


#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:

Login to comment. Only registered members can post comments!