Blacktip Island water polo players will face new challenges with the inclusion of shore-based archers in their matches. (photo courtesy of Vinny Abalone)
A group of Blacktip Island sports enthusiasts has combined elements of water polo and archery to create a new sport, which it hopes to introduce to the world in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“We were bored silly watching the Olympics and reckoned we could combine two of the dullest sports to create something actually worth watching,” Vinny Abalone said. “Arrows flying amongst the swimmers really gets the blood pumping. And flowing. We’re calling it ‘arrow polo,’ but we’re open to other suggestions.
“Basically, archers on land shoot arrows at the ball during water polo matches,” Abalone said. “The goal is to hit the ball as many times as possible. You get extra points if you shoot the ball whilst it’s in the air. You lose points if you hit a swimmer, though—it’s a sliding scale, ranging from minus one point for a pierced hand, to minus three for a torso hit, and minus five for a full-on head shot.”
Polo players say the sport presents new challenges.
“Before, the biggest danger was an opposing player dunking you. Now it’s being impaled,” Rosie Blenny said. “Straight away, we all grabbed helmets and body armor. It slows you down, but it also makes you a stronger swimmer. If you survive.
“We also banned broadhead arrows,” Blenny said. “Sure, they made things more exciting for the spectators, but it’s bad for the sport if you have players bleeding out in the pool. We also installed screens so the wind wouldn’t throw the arrows off by too much.”
Some in the community expect the sport to be short lived.
“It’s a Blacktip cliche: get bored, create a new activity, then everyone gets tired of it after a month or two,” Frank Maples said. “Long term, Vinny and his lot are angling for a free trip to Paris. More power to them, if they can stay focused for three years. And live through it. Stanger things have happened.”
Abalone said the group is refining the sport as they go.
“There was loads of blood in the water last practice, so we need to sort out how to factor that in,” he said. “We discussed using blunt-tipped arrows that wouldn’t puncture the balls or anyone’s skin, but that ran counter to the spirit of the sport.
“Instead, we decided to add sharks to the game,” he said. “It’s a small pool, so the thrashing should really add to the excitement.”