Regional | Hākinakina

Rangatahi keen to establish dodgeball as a top sport in Aotearoa

Forget the All Blacks, Tall Blacks, and Silver Ferns. It's the turn of the New Zealand Dodgeball team to take to the courts.

They’re in preparation to take on the best from across the world in the Dodgeball World Championships in Alberta, Canada, which are held from late August to early September.

Dodgeball is a team game in which players must dodge or catch balls thrown by the opposition whilst attempting to strike their opponents in the same way.

The ninth edition of the championships returns after Covid-19 forced its cancellation for the 2020 event.

One of the youngest in the New Zealand team is Joseph Lee-Monsall (Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whaoa). Teaomā caught up with the 18-year-old dodgeballer during one of his club games in Ōtautahi, Christchurch.

“It’s crazy. I still can’t believe it,” he says when asked how he feels about joining the team for a world-level opportunity. “When I first started playing I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere, and when I saw my name on the team list I was like ‘wow, I get to represent my country.’ It’s such a good feeling.”

Throwing and blocking

Lee-Monsall is one of a handful of Māori to be selected for the team, and it was his background in softball that helped him land the coveted spot on the team.

“[Softball] helps me in Dodgeball because of the power in the arm. I can bullet people with the throw and I played outfield so that helps me even more.”

Team veteran Nick Fargher says the national team does well at the international level, despite it being a relatively new sport. “All up we have been to six world champs, so we've had a good showing from the men's team in the past six years and are excited to have the girls back - we haven't had a girls team since 2016.”

Fargher says similar ball sports like cricket make good dodgeball players. “[A good player] is someone who is pretty nimble, has a good throw, good reactions. The main arts of the game are throwing and blocking so reactions from games like cricket, baseball, and softball.”

Lee-Monsall says the team may not be a household name but he hopes that the sport will gain more respect and recognition as time goes on.

“My goal is to really show people that dodgeball is actually a sport that you can get into and try to establish in New Zealand.”