Since its very beginnings, sportspeoples, and audiences have shared a symbiotic relationship – joining and participating in sports they love. A sport with no audience, is like a book with no reader, the story stays locked within the pages. At least until someone lets it free; Recently, a core initiative of the UKDBA is, finally, opening that book on dodgeball as far as it can go. And the people who have known and loved dodgeball for a long time will see some changes, but, hopefully we can all agree, for the better.
Chapter 1 – The Six Nations:
November 2016, snow covers the ground in Liverpool. 6 international teams, and 4 top quality UK junior teams descend upon the Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park, the venue was chosen for it’s excellent sporting facilities, but also it’s seating. The reason – this was the Six Nations Championships; one of the highlights of the dodgeball season, and tickets had been flying out.
2 days of drama, action, and surprises ensued as both players and crowds got fired up. The venue was sold out on the finals day, and anyone who was there will be able to recount the electric atmosphere as finals took place, particularly the thrilling match of the titans: England Lions vs. Scotland Highlanders Men’s teams.
The event was a huge success for the moment it brought in the sport. But there was more; we wanted the event to have a life after the event, so we pioneered a new initiative: we invited film maker and photographer BOKEHGO to attend the event and capture the highlights of the time there.
Since then we have not looked back. Our social media has been set aflame, showcasing top moments and people within the sport. Here is an indication of the ‘reach’ difference since then
Since the Six Nations towards the end of November, to date, we have achieved around 430,000 people seeing our posts sent out daily.
Particular high peaks you will notice are the release of films – the teaser for the Six Nations received over 7.2K dedicated watches alone. We certainly have more films lined up in the future.
Social media is a people-powered media. A big thanks has to go out to all of you who support it too. We are making content that shows the sport with a big spotlight, but it is made so much more impactive when you like, share and comment. We have also noticed a large number of clubs are really developing the quality of material they are producing. The dodgeball community is a shared voice, and together we can sing loud.
Chapter 2 – The English Open
It is not just the international side of dodgeball that deserves to be boasted about. The clubs are the core of dodgeball within the UK and are growing with massive talent and potential.
A focus we had for this year’s English Open was to make it our biggest ever open for team participation. We had more Women’s and Men’s teams than ever competing and it created for an electric atmosphere. Teams stood off against teams who would never normally have opportunity to play each other, meaning teams had to quickly adapt to new methods and tactics. Every team was there to play to the best they could. It was an event to be proud of, and showcased a massive amount of our clubs from all over the UK.
Chapter 3 – The Nick Pinnock Cup
This tournament means a lot to many of the teams, and it is exciting to see how passionate all teams competing are to share their stories and results as they happen. We believe this national cup competition really gives clubs the opportunity to showcase themselves not just as sports players but as a club within their local community. One particular initiative we will be excited to see the results of is Bedford Mighty Eagles attempting a live stream of their game against Bulldogs this coming Tuesday. Show them some support and tune in.
Chapter 4 – making the changes for everyday
We caught up with competitions coordinator Gareth Lewis to find out more about his experiences from some of the recent league meetings.
‘I just wanted to share with everyone my experiences and feelings following last weekend’s Dodgeball at The Pro Direct Arena in Birmingham … where DPL Round 4 on Saturday and The Fresher’s Championship on Sunday took place.
It’s stating the obvious that this venue is different to what the majority of players will have played at before, it certainly is unlike New College in terms of court surroundings, flooring and overall size. With Futstall, Handball and birthday parties all taking place around us the environment and buzz was unique.
With this in mind it is fair to say I was apprehensive whilst finding my way there, (yes I know there were a few minor issues and of course I heard the odd grumbling and “why are we here”) however by the end of Sunday evening I have to report that I left feeling so positive and thinking to myself that it had been one of my best weekends of Dodgeball since joining UKDBA.
As the National Governing Body for the Sport it is UKDBA’s role to organise and run competitions for the players and to promote, develop and grow the sport at grassroots and throughout the UK. During the course of the weekend I lost track of the number of conversation’s I had with people who I noticed were standing watching the action open mouthed. I initiated these conversation’s and in all cases had to explain 1) the rules 2) where the teams were from 3) all the events we run 4) internationals 5) vision for the future 6) school games.
Yes Dodgeball really does exist!!
In every conversation I had the responses were all along these lines:
“This looks amazing”
“I didn’t know anything about it other than the film. It sounds big and is clearly growing”
“I will certainly look out for Dodgeball in the future”
“I imagine this would be great for fitness”
My favourite came on Saturday where I saw two under 10 boys dragging their Dad’s over “Dad, Dad look its Dodgeball we do this in school” after a 40 minute conversation the lads went off to play football and the Dads simply stayed to watch the Dodgeball…. priceless.
On Sunday I noticed a young woman who was there because her boyfriend was playing football was watching the action, she sought me out again asking questions about the game but then asked if I knew anywhere locally that her and her friends could join in and give it a go. When I found out there is a Facebook page for a new Community Club in Birmingham, she was straight on her phone and I suspect she will be attending her first session this Friday. Again priceless.
Toward the end of the day on Saturday the Centre manager came over to me and asked how the day had gone, she said that they had received so many questions on the front desk about what we were doing. She said she would be watching the Fresher’s day on Sunday and to be fair she watched much of the day she has subsequently been in touch with us wanting to know what they can do with us, can we work on putting on taster sessions or other courses etc etc.
On Sunday evening a group of police officers were on sight and spent a good time watching, again asking questions this time along the lines of what equipment do we need to do sessions? It looks like a sport that engages young people.
I generally didn’t get chance to watch much of the action but was amazed at the dedication of teams that turned up for the Fresher’s event on Sunday. I want to single out the team from Sunderland who left home at 5.30 am to compete in their first ever event. I’m sure they would agree they were not the best; however the excitement and enthusiasm they had when they ran to tell me “guess what….. We won” really was the cherry on the cake on what was a great weekend and I was so pleased they would be travelling home that evening with a positive.
Yes I am sure DPL round 4 would have had great competitive matches and players would have loved it, were it held at New College or in a similar venue, however for me and for UKDBA everything I have mentioned above (I could have included more) really made it worthwhile knowing that so many more people witnessed, engaged and, who knows, may take up our great game. Being in this different and unique venue alongside other sports really was a showcase and I am 100% convinced the game will continue to grow at an even faster rate out of the back of weekends like last week.
As the National Governing Body for the sport, we believe in its growth to its maximum potential. Everyday we all together are stepping forward. Next will be the climax to our league season, highlighting all that is fantastic about sport within the unique setting of dodgeball; title deciders, relegation battles, triumph, defeat, competition, fun and sportsmanship. Beyond this we look forward excitedly to truly take the spectacle of dodgeball to the next level with the culmination of our championship season, UK National Championships in June. Hosted at the spectacular Leicester Arena, we are aiming for massive audiences, and a platform for dodgeball in the UK to truly shine from.
We are extremely pleased to be on this journey with you all, whether you are a player or supporter of dodgeball.
The UKDBA Team