Manitoba

Manitoba's best female dodgeball players square off in Winnipeg

Manitoba's top prize for dodgeballers — the Riel Cup — was on the line this weekend as the province's best female dodgeball players ducked and dodged to decide who will represent Manitoba at the National Dodgeball Championships.

Winners move on to nationals in Charlottetown, PEI

The 7 Deadly Sins women's dodgeball team took top spot at Saturday's provincial dodgeball championships. The team will represent Manitoba at nationals in April along with the winning men's team from next weekend's men's provincials. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Manitoba's top prize for dodgeballers — the Riel Cup — was on the line the weekend as this province's best female dodgeball players ducked and dodged to decide who will represent Manitoba at the National Dodgeball Championships.

The women's provincial dodgeball championships were held at Garden City Collegiate on Saturday.

It's the third-annual provincial tournament for the sport, once relegated to elementary school gymnasiums, that Dodgeball Manitoba president Mat Klachefsky said is growing more and more popular with players of all skill levels.

"Manitoba actually has the most dodgeball players per capita out of any region in Canada," Klachefsky said.

"It is definitely a growing sport and the competitive aspect of it is really growing now that teams are kind of figuring out how to play, and it's really interesting because the strategies that they are developing at a competitive level are becoming standard," he said.

"There's dodgeball players who play dodgeball like the Winnipeg Jets play hockey, it's the only thing they do," said Klachefsky. 

The province's best men's and women's dodgeball teams compete for the Riel Cup, Manitoba's top dodgeball prize. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The competitive game is played with six players on each team and six balls in play per game.

Players are eliminated from the game when they're hit with a ball, or if a player on the opposing team catches their throw. When players on an entire team are eliminated, the opposing team gets a point, and the team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Unlike the welt-leaving rubber balls often used in elementary school play, the high-end players use balls that are seven-inch in diameter and made of foam, with a rubber coating.

"They don't hurt," said Klachefsky. "They're not the solid rubber kind with the tread — if you get hit in the face with these it doesn't hurt — depending on who's throwing it."

'Incredibly physically demanding'

But that doesn't mean there's no risk involved.

Guylaine San Filippo, whose team "The Underdogs" took part in Saturday's tournament, said she's broken a pinky finger and suffered a number of sprains through her dodgeball career, which has included two trips to the world championships.

As the level of play continues to become more intense, Sanfilippo said it's not uncommon to see competitive teams like hers taking part in serious training before matches.

Guylaine Sanfilippo and her team, The Underdoges, took part in Saturday’s provincial women's dodgeball tournament. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

"At a competitive level it is incredibly physically demanding," she said.

"So much so that as the sport progresses we're adding strengthening and conditioning things because you can't just show up and play — it's not like it was in elementary school or high school," said Sanfilippo. 

Eight teams took part in Saturday's tournament, with the "7 Deadly Sins" squad taking home the 2019 provincial title.

The team, along with a second team chosen by committee, will now move onto fourth annual National Dodgeball Championships, held this year in Charlottetown, PEI April 4-7.

The province's best men's teams will take to the court to decide who will represent Manitoba men at the national tournament next Saturday.

Canadian dodgeball has won several medals on the world stage including a men's gold and women's silver in 2016 and the 2018 National Dodgeball Championships were held at the Duckworth Centre in Winnipeg. 

With files from Stephen Ripley and Walther Bernal

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