Monday, September 7, 2015

How small teams get to big championships

Irish team at ICF Freestyle Worlds - pic via FACEBOOK
Freestyle kayakers from around the world were in Ottawa this week and last racing down some serious rapids. 

There were some great stories happening behind the scenes with a few of the smaller teams. I know most about the Irish team - they were out there competing with the big American and Canadian teams powered by cake-sales and pub-quizzes.  Yes, cakes. And it takes a lot of cakes to get from Ireland to Ottawa.

Ok, they obviously had funding through Canoeing Ireland as well but there is something special about a team which pulls together like this:

The Ugandan team had bigger problems than just a lack of funding. They were twice refused visas by the Canadian High Commission and only got the vital paperwork on August 21st - about a week  before the tournament started.

Team manager Sam Ward was quoted in Ottawa Citizen saying: 'They are ecstatic. Amina Tayona, the only female in the group, collapsed in tears when she heard the news that the visas had been granted. Then she went around hugging everyone. It was very emotional. They are very happy.'

Uganda's team for ICF freestyle kayaking World Championships pic VIA Ottawa Citizen
That wasn't all though. It took so long to get the visa organised that the price of the tickets had shoot through the roof.  The internet to the rescue with a heart-warming crowdfunding blitz that replaced the cost of the three visa applications and filled in the ticket-costs.

More details on the actual heats and races on the ICF 2015 World Freestyle Kayak website.


Snowcatcher said...

If that isn't a feel-good story all the way around... Amazing that these two teams could pull together like that, with fans and supporters, to pull off something many people just dream about and never actually accomplish! I didn't know any of this before visiting here, so thank you for lifting my day!

real girl sport said...

@Snowcatcher - they are inspiring! And you coming from cycling would definitely get that community spirit, it's something bigger sports like Football ( all types!) never get to experience really.