Can’t dodge the fun

> Three lo­cal dodge­ball en­thu­si­asts have or­gan­ised a brand new tour­na­ment to show­case this high-en­ergy sport to more Malaysians

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE - BY JEREMY CHEONG

WHEN it comes to Malaysians’ favourite pastimes, futsal, foot­ball and bad­minton eas­ily top the list. How­ever, over the past few years, sev­eral un­con­ven­tional sports have found their way into lo­cal hearts and play­ing fields.

One of th­ese – dodge­ball – has seen its pop­u­lar­ity grow rapidly over the years, and was re­cently given a boost when the Malaysian women’s na­tional team man­aged to be­come world cham­pi­ons.

Now, the up­com­ing Zeal Cup Dodge­ball Cham­pi­onship in Sum­mit USJ, Subang Jaya of­fers peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness this sport first­hand. The tour­na­ment is or­gan­ised by Zeal Gar­ment Ven­ture and sanc­tioned by the Malaysia As­so­ci­a­tion of Dodge­ball (MAD).

theSun spoke to the trio in charge of mak­ing this tour­na­ment a suc­cess – Jonas Lim, Si­mon Quah and Piong Shun Zhe.

“Over the last few years, the pop­u­lar­ity of dodge­ball in Malaysia has grown quite rapidly,” said Lim. “It is played in col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, and there are also quite a few com­mu­nity teams.

“On top of that, our na­tional team play­ers are also very for­mi­da­ble and tal­ented, as they re­cently took home gold and sil­ver for the women’s and men’s cat­e­gories re­spec­tively at the World’s Dodge­ball Cham­pi­onship in Mel­bourne in Oc­to­ber.”

Piong added: “Much like any other com­pet­i­tive sport, dodge­ball re­quires play­ers to be phys­i­cally and men­tally fit, which means there’s a lot of train­ing in­volved.

“While it isn’t a full on con­tact sport such as rugby, foot­ball or bas­ket­ball, the idea of lob­bing a ball at op­pos­ing play­ers can be a form of stress re­lease for some.

“The game might scare new play­ers away, as it may look quite painful as you’re con­stantly be­ing pelted at with balls but that’s not the case as the balls are made of foam. So, it doesn’t hurt at all.”

For the Zeal Cup Cham­pi­onship, the com­pe­ti­tion is based on stan­dard dodge­ball rules. Each match is 10 min­utes long, and pits two teams of six against each other.

To score a point, each team has to elim­i­nate all six of the op­pos­ing team’s play­ers, with a new match be­gin­ning once all six play­ers of a team have been elim­i­nated.

The tour­na­ment is open to lo­cal dodge­ball clubs, and each club will par­tic­i­pate in three cat­e­gories, all-male, all-fe­male and mixed or coed.

The tour­na­ment also takes a page out of the Thomas Cup’s rule­book by fo­cus­ing on the per­for­mance of the en­tire club in­stead of just in­di­vid­ual teams.

Clubs have to win at least two out of the three cat­e­gories to move on to the next round.

Quah ex­plained: “The rea­son why we chose to use the Thomas Cup as a tem­plate is be­cause we re­alised there is a lack of op­por­tu­nity for fe­male teams, as most com­pe­ti­tions only have all male or coed cat­e­gories.

“The lack of op­por­tu­nity leaves many fe­male play­ers feel­ing de­mo­ti­vated. With this tour­na­ment, we want to re­mind clubs about this is­sue and en­cour­age them to be a more com­pre­hen­sive club and also fo­cus on their fe­male play­ers.”

For ex­ist­ing fans and those who want to get into the sport of dodge­ball, the up­com­ing Zeal Cup will def­i­nitely be a good place to start.

Eight par­tic­i­pat­ing clubs will use their strengths and strate­gies to out­wit and out­per­form their op­po­nents, all for a shot at ex­cit­ing re­wards which in­clude up to RM3,000 in cash, medals, and prizes, as well as the chance of be­ing de­clared one of the top dodge­ball clubs in Malaysia.

Lim said: “We hope this tour­na­ment will be a very suc­cess­ful one, and if the fans and clubs love how it plays out, we def­i­nitely look for­ward to or­gan­is­ing an an­nual tour­na­ment.

“If pos­si­ble, we even hope to make this an in­ter­na­tional af­fair.”

PIX COUR­TESY GABRIEL GARETH FOO

Pas­sion for the sport ... (from left) Piong, Quah and Lim. (top) Lo­cal dodge­ball play­ers show­ing off their skills on the court.

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