Report on the 16th Asian Canoe Polo Championships
The 16th Asian Canoe Polo Championships have been held during the period of 23rd to 25th October 2015 in Hong Kong, with over 200 players from 11 participating countries, namely, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong. Four categories were held, including Men, U21 Men, Women and U21 Women. It was the first time for some of the countries to join the event, such as Brunei, China, Macau, and Thailand. Despite their young team age, team Thailand have won the third place in category U21 Women and team Macau were also able to enter the intermediate rounds after the heats. The new players actually had good performance in the event.
Individual differences between teams were clearly demonstrated. Iran, Singapore and Chinese Taipei dominated the finals of the Championships. Each of them together with Japan respectively won a championship in the end. The finals were competitive, where the spreads of the scores were rather close. However, disparities between scores were often observed in the heats and intermediate rounds. In spite of this, sportsmanship and dedication were observed for both strong and weak teams even in times of extreme spread of scores. The spirit of canoe polo was fully exhibited in every single tournament.
The sport is still imbalanced in terms of gender. Among the four categories, Men was dominant (100%coverage, i.e. 11 teams) in terms of participation, followed by U21 Men (over 60%, i.e. 7 teams). Women had about 50% coverage (6 teams) in the 11 participating countries, while U21 Women had less than 40% coverage (4 teams). This reflects the fact that there is still much room for further development for women.
The event has undoubtedly advocated the development of canoe polo in Asia. Some countries originally hesitated to take part in the event due to issues of funding or training. However, thanks to the encouragements of Asian Canoe Confederation and Hong Kong Canoe Union, they had overcome the difficulties and some of them even had satisfactory results. For such countries, they have built a foundation to facilitate further development.
The event has also strengthened the supporting structure for the sport. An international canoe polo referee course was held during the period of the championships. 16 experienced canoe polo enthusiasts from a number of Asian countries have taken part in the course. Most of them have passed the written examination and 8 of them have obtained appropriate referee grades after the practical assessment (Grade B- SIN 1; Grade C- SIN 1; Grade T- China 1, Hong Kong 3 & Iran 2). Furthermore, an experienced referee from Japan has been upgraded to Grade C and another one from Hong Kong has been upgraded to Grade B after the assessment in the same period. They will all provide quality service to the sport as a World-class referee.
Having 11 participating countries, the 16th Asian Canoe Polo Championships is one with most participating countries. Appreciation is given to Asian Canoe Confederation and all having contributed to the event. With the endeavour of all these countries, a bright future of Canoe Polo is expected in Asia.