CANI News Splash August 2020 Ed. 2

Canoe Polo Paddling Experiences
-By Corinna McCoy, 24th August 2020

Corinna in match action 

“My paddling career, as a female player, hasn’t been without its challenges. From starting as an in-experienced player on the first Ulster girls’ team at the Junior International Championships in Belfast 2017, to becoming the Irish U21 national team’s Captain at the recent 2019 European Championships in Coimbra, Portugal. Looking back at the start of my athletic journey, I was met with many challenges including managing my living and studying arrangements at university, on top of personal socialising and training schedules. Regardless, the decisions I made to leave more mainstream sports including hockey and moving university to be based closer to home and training grounds, was the necessary move to progress to the level to which I play at today. A key lesson to my development was realising I was never going to be able to perform to the same level as a male my age or older. Instead, I learned tactically how to out skill someone I contested against. 

Corinna training on the water

The idea of 10,000 hours of practice sunk in deep. Months of tough training, with physical contests, getting pushed, being picked last for teams, little competition exposure and always being watched and supported in case something bad happened. 2 years after starting canoe polo, I pushed myself in my training and university performances. I travelled to Lithuania and Rome in the pre-season, finishing in respectable positions on 2 different teams. Shortly after, squad training for 2019 began in Belfast, where I was determined to make a greater impact on the final outcome in team ranks and a more enjoyable competitive summer. I was selected to represent the Irish National U21 team at the 2019 European Championships, narrowly finishing in 7th position, the highest-ranking position the team finished at a European Championships. This has been one of my greatest achievement to date, to develop as a player and person, captioning the team during good and bad experiences, and being able to transfer the skills I learnt to my daily life. 

Corinna (left) helping CANI at the Female Expo at Tollymore in March

The development of canoe polo in Ireland is developing rapidly. For my placement year of university, I worked with Belfast Kayak Academy/Ulster Canoe Polo Club to increase the accessibility and opportunities to young children. We have a great working partnership with local schools, providing after school club 4 afternoons a week, alongside evening beginner sessions and polo training. A major component of my work was to increase the recruitment drive for newcomers to the sport and create a development plan to ensure the retainment and sustainability of new members. Lauren Smythe, CANI, reached out to myself in early 2020 to assist in increasing the profile of women’s kayaking, an opportunity I was keen to join. A young female participant was able to join this opportunity, to assist in showcasing canoe polo in a training session showing Lauren what the sport was all about, in addition to accompanying myself at an event in Tollymore for women’s sport during International Woman’s Day. For the sport and the club, this was a great chance to advertise who we are and what we offer, showcasing the sport and answering questions in regard to opportunities and experiences. 


Corinna with her international team mates.

Covid-19 significantly affected the club in a time where development was improving. With government guidelines, we closed the academy’s facilities prior to lockdown. Like others, this was hard to swallow as all the hard work since 2020 to create something for beginner kayakers was disrupted. All competitions were cancelled, which was hard to take to start because the level of training and sacrifices made prior to this felt meaningless, normal training routines were neglected and motivation to start back was challenging. I tried to maintain some level of training during lockdown however this was incredibly challenging with training individually and I struggled to stay motivated. I went from training to 4 times a week to nothing in a matter of days. I am a self-motivated person, but when things are tough, I struggle to ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel.’ I developed the mindset of not focusing on the level I was at prior to lockdown, instead focusing on the best level I can be at post lockdown. 2020 was due to be my concluding year of U21 level and with Covid, everything was put on hold. I intended to make the most out of this year however I took the time to think about what I’m wanting to get out of the sport and opportunities I can take advantage of. It is hard to plan when things are so unsure and if any competitions can go ahead, or do I still take the time to fact find what is possible next. 

In July, Ulster Canoe Polo Club returned to ‘normal’ training after over 4 and a half months of lockdown, followed by Belfast Kayak Academy re-starting beginner kayaking sessions in August. We saw our greatest demand for beginner kayaking in years, where we implemented a booking system to control the number of participants, and a rotation of 4 paddle sports instructors.  It is great to see so many young kids confident and happy in the water and seeing improvements in their skills. As we ease out of lockdown, we are planning for the upcoming months to make sure we can provide everyone with the opportunities they deserve as a beginner kayaker or a canoe polo athlete.”

Read the full report here.

Many thanks to Corinna McCoy for highlighting her exceptional Canoe Polo experiences to date and for being a fantastic paddling role model!

Sport NI Online Safeguarding and DSCO Courses

Sport NI have now created an Online Designated Safeguarding Children’s Officer course which occurs over two evenings in which both must be attended in order to complete the course.  This consists of pre-learning like the Safeguarding course that will have to be completed beforehand.  Participants will receive the resource booklet and on completed will receive a certificate. 

See course information below;

Safeguarding Children & Young People Online Virtual Workshop Dates;

Wednesday 26th August 6.45pm to 9pm-  Register here 

Wednesday 9th September 6.45pm to 9pm- Register here

Wednesday 23rd September 6.45pm to 9pm – Register here

Designated Safeguarding Children’s Officer Training Workshop Dates:

Tuesday 25th August & Thursday 27th August 6.45pm to 8pm – Register here

DfC Covid-19 Update

20th August 2020

From 20th August 2020 the number of cases of COVID-19 is currently increasing significantly.  

Daily updates are available on the Department of Health Website here

The for Communities are working with colleagues in the Public Health Agency to ask and encourage sporting bodies and clubs to ‘TRAIN SMART, PLAY SMART, BE COVID SMART’. 

Please download, read and promote the attached letter to paddlers at your Club here.

Trailer Wanted

MUCK and Tidal Community Centre are looking for a trailer for kayaks, SUP’s and canoes.  If anyone has a trailer and are interested in selling please contact Una on Mobile 07743575969 or email

East Antrim U3A Return to the Water After Lock down

– By John Cunningham (Equality Committee Older Person Lead)


The East Antrim U3A (University of the Third Age) had their first paddle after  “lock down” on Friday 7th, August on the Lagan above Drum Bridge , it was a beautiful calm sunny day only there was so much rubbish we decided to come back later and clean it up. The next Friday we paddled on the Quoile from Jane’s Shore up passed Inch Abbey but as the wind was very gusty some of our paddlers had difficulty in making any headway so we headed back to more sheltered waters.

Friday 14th August saw us back at Drum Bridge equipped wth litterpickers , rubber glove and large plastic bags , even so it was a very messy job but praise to everyone for sticking to the Task . We even had our bit of excitement , below the bridge we heard shouts of desperation and discover two young ladies frantically trying to find their dog which we saw in the water but it was unable to get out because of the vertical banks , it was a young pup obviously tired and frightened and trying to get way from us as well, we eventually managed to coral it between three boats lifted it into a boat and transfer it to the bank and its owners.

Find out more about the CANI Equality Committee here.

For the CANI homepage click here