By chance, I stumbled upon a new craze this weekend that’s taking Sydney by storm.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past few years, or at least venturing nowhere near the ocean, you will be aware of the growing popularity of paddle boarding.
It was only a matter of time before someone turned it into a team sport, and where better to get involved than on a sunny beach on the East Coast of Australia?
Recently, Manly Kayak Centre, situated by the wharf in Manly on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, devised the game SUPBall, otherwise known as Stand Up Paddle Ball. As the name might suggest, you can also rent kayaks here, which is a great way to see some of Sydney’s more secluded beaches and get some exercise while you’re at it.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
While their website describes the new sport as a mix of netball, water polo, lacrosse and rugby, what I witnessed this weekend – as I dangled my bare feet over the edge of the wharf pier and focused my camera lens on some of the most beautiful bodies I’ve ever seen – was more reminiscent of semi-naked wrestling with the occasional throw of a ball.
SPEEDOS AND MUSCLES
Everywhere I looked were incredibly well-built men in luminous speedos grappling at each other and splashing around in the water. It didn’t seem to matter whether the ball was anywhere near them. They appeared to be tackling each other just for the sake of it. Having said that, if I’d been out there among the writhing testosterone-fueled hunks of muscle, I would probably have taken every opportunity to cop a feel too…
The basic premise of the game is simple. Two teams of five go up against each other and aim to score as many goals as possible by throwing a small ‘match’ ball at their opponent’s ‘SUPBall goal buoy’ and making contact. The game is split into two halves, each lasting 20 minutes.
I was fairly convinced there were no more rules, as chaos more or less ensued for the full game, but it turns out there are a few…
The rules of SUPBall:
› Once a player is in possession of the ball they must stop paddling.
› A player who is not on a board is deemed to be out of the game until they get back on a board. They must not interfere with the ball or other players while they are in the water (well, at least this explains all the tackling).
› Once a goal is scored, the team that scored the goal must retreat around their defensive ‘goal buoy’ in order to be considered onside. Until they have done this, they must not interfere with the ball or other players (of course, there had to be an offside rule…).
…And that’s it!
What I love about this game is that pretty much anything goes. You can tip your opponent into the water, steal the ball, and even get on their board with them if it helps you remove them from the game for a few seconds.
And then, well, the views aren’t bad either.
If you fancy a game, you’ll need to head down to the Manly Kayak Centre on Manly Wharf and register before the start of the next competition season. This year’s competition has been running since last October, with matches on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons between 5 pm and 7 pm.
This season, the Manly Kayak Centre encouraged teams of seven to 14 players to sign up. Included in the entry fee was board rental for all games, $15/h board hire at all other times for training purposes and an initial two-hour training session. They were also asked to design their own costumes. Good job boys.
SUPBall is a fantastic way to stay fit, get some sunshine and fresh air and have a lot of fun with your friends.
Alternatively, why not pop down to the Wharf Bar, find yourself a spot on the pier overlooking the action and enjoy ogling the bronzed bodies, while making the excuse that you’re following the game. If there was ever a spectator sport for the ladies, I’m certain I’ve found it.
CONTINUE THE ADVENTURE
As luck would have it, Manly is one of the first stops on the CONTIKI BEACHES AND RAINFORESTS tour, which is an amazing way to take in all of the best adventures between Sydney and Cairns.