Kayak soccer sparks fierce competition in Headquarters Support Battalion

26 Apr 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Grant

Approximately 50 of Headquarters Support Battalion Marines aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune battled while afloat colorful kayaks at Gottschalk Marina in a single elimination tournament of kayak soccer, April 26.

In a four to one victory in the final round, Company A beat out Security Company to win the prestigious commanders cup for the first time in more than five events.

“The event was really fun. We beat two companies and Alpha Company finally came out on top,” said Jorge Banuelos, training clerk for the battalion S-3. “Alpha Company doesn’t normally win, but we just got a whole section of new people and put up some fierce competition.”

The commander’s cup is a monthly event held by the battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Bardorf, as a way to bring the unit together, build camaraderie and spark friendly competition and fun.

This was the second time the unit played kayak soccer as part of the commander’s cup.

To start each game, a safety boat positioned the ball in the middle of the goals. The referee blew the whistle, the ball dropped, and teammates from both sides paddled furiously toward the ball.

Positioned about 30 yards from the marina docks, two buoys marked the goals. To score and earn a point, the teams must use paddles and sometimes their hands to push the ball across the water. On dry land the ball stood about five feet tall, but was able to glide over the water with ease. Team members would paddle at full speed and ram the ball as a better way to move the ball against the other team.

The games consisted of two 10 minute periods with a small break in between. Each team had extra teammates on the sidelines to be used at substitutes. The subs would enter the game when a teammate was tired or their boat flipped over.

Due to a breeze surrounding the marina, the teams time to switched sides during halftime. This kept the game fair and did not give a team an unfair advantage by using the wind to push the ball toward a certain goal.

Prior to the event teams coordinated to wear certain attire so they would be able to differentiate teammates during the mob of kayaks in the water. Referees positioned themselves at either end of the scoring area to see and enforce penalties as well as out-of-bounds areas.

Through brute force, some tactics and a little help from Mother Nature, the seven person teams moved the massive inflatable ball across the water.