When you think of team sports in Vancouver, beach volleyball, hockey and baseball might spring to mind. But a diverse community of more than 1600 Vancouverites has a different sporting passion – dodgeball.
Shafique Adatia plays every Monday night with twelve of his work colleagues on a team named The Dodgefathers.
“The main appeal for me is to do something with my work colleagues recreationally, outside of work. We usually hang out after the game and have a couple drinks and it’s really sociable,” says Adatia, a technical support analyst from Burnaby.
The aim of dodgeball is to eliminate the opposing team by throwing balls at the players. The game starts with six balls lined up on the central dividing line. Both teams simultaneously rush towards the centre to grab one of the dodgeballs to throw at the opposition or roll back to their teammates.
Peter Tang, executive director of the Vancouver Dodgeball League (VDL), explains that dodgeball is played when a ball is thrown at another player and makes contact, thus eliminating the player from the game. But a catch by a fellow teammate can bring them back and eliminate the thrower.
“In its simplest form, it’s exactly what we all played in school.”
Dodging alienation and health issues
The physical benefits to playing dodgeball are clear, and as with volleyball, the social aspect of the sport is a big draw for many. According to Tang, it is this community vibe that makes the sport so successful.
“Everyone has a common goal of having a good time,” says Tang. “We play the honour system which is uncommon in today’s world, but having a great community makes this work.”
He says that the games do not have paid referrees, so they are “peer-reffed”.
“[This] really puts the onus on players to learn the rules inside out,” says Tang.
Adatia agrees, noting that the friendly sport is a great way to meet new and interesting people. Among Adatia’s teammates are friends from Kenya, Ireland and Croatia. Not only does the game bring people from all around the world together, he says it also unites colleagues from different departments who play together on work teams like his.
Adatia says that the first few games have mixed players. This means newcomers meet a lot of new people, right away.
“Unlike some team sports there’s no drama and at the end of the night everyone goes home happy,” says Adatia.
The VDL plays 4 nights a week in rented school gyms across the city and Tang himself plays on two of those nights.
“It’s a moderate workout depending how hard or smart you play. For the veterans, the movements start to be reduced in return for more strategic play and teamwork,” says Tang.
The sport has wide appeal, and grows more popular each year.
Tang says that the VDL is popular among university students, young professionals and seniors. The sport is so simple and exciting that it attracts crowds of all ages and backgrounds.
“We have 184 teams and needless to say the popularity is there and we are continuing to grow,” says Tang.
Memories make for future friends
Camille Quinton, a 28 year old professional living in the city, plays on a team called Balls to the Walls and thinks it’s a great mid-week pursuit. She appreciates the way that dodgeball’s relaxed and fun atmosphere allows people from many different backgrounds and communities to come together and enjoy themselves.
“I remember playing dodgeball in gym class in elementary school and wasn’t prepared for how fun it is to play as an adult,” Quinton says.
She says that teams have chants and specially made T-shirts with team names and logos on them.
“Some of the teams go all out and wear costumes. I like it because it’s such a diverse group of people and most importantly no one takes it too seriously,” says Quinton.
While no experience or athletic skill is necessary to start to play and enjoy the sport, many players find that they become
increasingly devoted and passionate about dodgeball.
“When we first started playing it was friendly play and actually we really sucked at the beginning, but now it’s getting more competitive and the team is stronger,” says Abatia. “We’re on our 7th game of the season and we have our first tournament coming up soon!”
The Vancouver Dodgeball League has two seasons: Fall/Winter and Winter/Spring. Register online at http://www.vdldodgeball.ca