“Both Jess and I play other high-level sports, and they contribute to our play in dodgeball,” says Phavone. “But when we go to these other sports and say, ‘I have dodgeball practice and I’m training to be on the national team,’ other people think, ‘Oh wait, it’s dodgeball?’ They can’t fathom that there are other levels to dodgeball like you have in soccer or baseball or football.”
Canada is a power in the world dodgeball scene, and historically do well at these championships, alongside the likes of the Americans, the Australians and the Malaysians. There will be men’s, women’s and mixed world championships in the two styles of internationally recognized dodgeball — cloth and foam (more on that, later).
And, for dedicated dodgeballers, the long-term goal is to get the sport admitted into the Olympic program.
“There are many Olympic sports out there that most people have never heard of,” says Phavone. “When I was playing team handball, people didn’t know that it was an Olympic sport.”
(France won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in both men’s and women’s handball, by the way. Just wanted to save you the visit to Wikipedia.)
International dodgeball in no way resembles the self-esteem-crushing game from your school days. The balls are smaller, and there are multiple balls in play at a time. In cloth, there are five balls. In foam, there are six. The opening of a game looks a bit like a war zone, with multiple players being eliminated. But, as the numbers on each team decline, the strategy comes into play. Teams hoard balls so they can unleash a volley of shots at a target on the other side. There’s constant movement on the court.