WHEN we hear the word dodgeball, we immediately think of the film. A comedy set in Las Vegas between two opposing gyms.
Unless it’s boxing, football, ice hockey or GAA related, any other game tends to get overlooked in Northern Ireland. Especially games played by men and women on the same team. It’s almost like it’s just too progressive for us. But there exists such a thing and it’s gaining popularity every week as more and more people turn up to training at Kapow Dodgeball. What makes them stand out is the sheer diversity of the players. With a mixture of men and women of varying ethnic backgrounds and social demographics, the dodgeball community is onto something. The court etiquette is respectful. Swearing is not allowed and the players treat each other as equals. The first all-female team Belfast Black Widows were spawned in East Belfast. After them came the North Belfast based Crossfire Cheetas. The two groups trained together for the first time and got on well as the end of game photograph shows. Players from each of the teams will be representing Northern Ireland in the Dodgeball World Cup being held in Manchester this year. The difference with this Northern Ireland team compared to others is that they will all be paying for their own kit, travel and accommodation.
Leslie, my muckeroo from the previous blog is the one lying on the ground being a head the ball. She joined the Belfast Black Widows as a hobby and is now the only dodgeball youth coach in Northern Ireland. She coaches a whole host of youth groups and is in the process of having them play against each other in a tournament. She goes into youth clubs and encourages kids to take up the sport, then moves on once the youth leader is trained. During the interview, she is full of energy and speaks with passion about her job. Saying “Doing this has given me a new lease of life. When you hear the young women calling themselves Belfast White Widows in homage to the Black Widows, it makes you feel good like you’re impacting their lives. As word of mouth has spread around their peer groups, the class sizes have grown in all the centres. When I was only learning I said I didn’t want to play because I was afraid of the boys but it wasn’t that bad. I applied for the position of coach and got the job. Asked about its success in the Suffolk interface area, Leslie said: “It’s a brand new way of working with the young people. Instead of the silly season of young people throwing bricks, we encourage them to throw balls instead. My vision is for Northern Ireland to be the epicenter of dodgeball – we’re already good at throwing, we may as well make use of it” she laughed. In a way, it’s like the Dodgeball story line is repeating itself only there is no underdog in Suffolk, both sets of kids are the same. Belfast Black Widow Questions: How much is it to train and what do I get for it? Training is held on a Tuesday evening in Lagan Village Community Group. It costs £3 per session or £10 per month. This includes your kit. Youth Team Questions: Where does the training take place and what time? Tuesday 7 – 8pm NUBIA Wednesday 3.30pm – 5.00pm St James’ Community Forum/St Louise’s College Wednesday John Paul, Ardoyne 7.30pm – 9.30pm Thursday Valley Leisure Centre 4.00pm – 5.00pm Friday Suffolk Community Centre 3.15pm – 4.30pm Friday Cregagh Community Centre 6.00pm – 7.00pm Friday Tullycarnet 7.30pm – 8.30pm What age group can join the youth dodgeball teams? Age 7+ boys and girls