Yep, it’s dodgeball! Now, add some swerving, some serious catching and throwing, but don’t flinch when a ball is speeding towards you, and you’re a dodgeball player.
That’s right, the all-time movie Dodgeball has officially become an organised sport. #No #Joke.
But initially, it actually was a joke for Australian Women’s Dodgeroos vice-captain Elli Darwinkel who says taking up the sport was all about some comedy and exercise.
“It was about seven or eight years ago and my sister and I were looking for a different sport to play and we came across dodgeball and it was around the time of the movie as well so we decided to start playing,” Darwinkel said.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “We started as just a bit of a joke on a Sunday night with friends mucking around.
“And then all of a sudden we got invited to compete overseas and now I’m representing Australia which is amazing because I work full time, just like every other woman on the team. We study and work, and now we get to go and compete internationally in a sport that I really enjoy playing.
“It’s been fantastic in getting to represent our country in an underground sport,” she said.
"In April, our Australian dodgeball team will head to Manchester, UK, for the inaugural Dodgeball World Cup.
“Ideally, we’re really aiming to get dodegball into the Olympics. Things like ultimate frisbee now are being considered in the Olympics and BMX bike riding is in so, that’s the ultimate goal, to get Dodgeball into the Olympics.”
In September last year, the Dodgeball Federation Australia (DFA) hosted the Asian Dodgeball championships in Melbourne, and in conjunction with the world governing body, World Dodgeball Association (WDA).
“That was the Asian Cup, which was the qualifier for the World Cup in England which we’re now going to,” Darwinkel said.
"Just one winner from Asia went through from four countries; from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia one team qualified directly and then a second team is also going to compete for one final spot against other final qualifying teams,” Darwinkel said.
“We beat Malaysia in the final to qualify for the World Cup."
Just like the movie, 27 year-old Darwinkel says there’s plenty of rough and toughness, protective gear at the ready, and game plans involved in playing dodgeball like a pro.
“We all wear knee pads and a lot of us wear arm sleeves and a lot of players also tape their fingers to help with jarring and gripping the ball.
“I’ve broken my hand, I broke a knuckle last year playing, I’ve also had a concussion, we’ve had a few people with broken fingers, broken hands, a few rolled ankles,” Darwinkel said.
And the skills, aside from ‘duck, dodge, dip, dice and dodge?
“You have to be pretty good at throwing the dodgeball. You have to have a pretty good action and you need to be quite strong in the shoulders. You also have to be able to not flinch, you know a few balls are coming at you and it takes a bit of time to get used to, and with a few balls coming at you, catching is another really important skill,” she said.
Dodgeball's positions include wingers, catchers, throwers, defenders and a team coordinator.
“It’s quite strategic. We play with different positions on the court and we put a lot of control on when we should throw, and coordinating the throwing. The catchers are usually in the middle and who can survive the madness and take a catch or two that brings other people back on court.
“There’s also a lot of strategy involved. A lot of the best players are the smarter players who know when they should throw and when they shouldn’t and things like that,” she said.
In the World Cup, the Dodgeroos will face Wales, Austria and Egypt in Group A. Other countries competing include England, USA and Italy. For this inaugural World Cup, Australia is raring to go.
“I’m so excited, this is the first time we get to play against European and African countries. We get to go to Manchester and play a sport that we love and we’ve got a fantastic team, we’re all super excited to get over there and have a go.
“There’s a good competitiveness against the European teams who are preparing themselves to beat us and we’re very excited to prove that we’re not as easy as they hope,” Darwinkel said.
Darwinkel works at Victoria University in student well being as a Safer Community Senior Coordinator.
“It’s all self-funded, we do have some sponsorship through different companies, and for example we’re sponsored by Chemist Warehouse, Rocktape, and the Summer Hill hotel. Each of those companies is providing a little bit of something and our jersey’s are provided by Beastwear but all the actual travel expenses etcetera are all covered by the players.
“We do a lot of fundraising, events a jersey sale and things like that to help and substitute the costs,” Darwinkel said.
Eight nations qualified for the World Cup across the globe, and following the international event, a new World Rankings System will take place, effective from the World Cup and World Invitational events for the men’s and women’s categories
The World Cup will be held in Manchester, April 14-17.
England / Italy / qualifier* / USA
Wales / Austria / Australia / Egypt
*Women's Qualifier to be decided in a triangular playoff on April 14 between Cameroon / Malaysia / Northern Ireland.