Canoe Polo Referee Training and Exam Grade 3/4

I did the Canoe Polo Referee Theory Course and Exam (Grade 3/4). This is a three hour computer slide presentation taking you over the rules of the game followed by a multiple choice exam. Here’s my notes for my own use and anyone else who is interested.

The BCU Canoe Polo Rules 2013-2015 describe the rules and are mostly accurate and about as readable as they can be. They are based on the ICF rules.

A pitch is 35m x 23m or otherwise in a ratio of 3:2. Water is at least 90cm deep. 4 metres each side of the centre of the goal is the No Waiting Area, subs should stay out of this area. Goals are 1m x 1.5m x 30cm deep and 2m above the water. Marked with red/white stripes.

Ball is size 4 for ladies and junior, size 5 for open competition (these sizes seem to come from FIFA for football).

There can be 8 players on a pitch with 5 in play. A max of 10 is allowed in each team.

Officials needed are: 1st referee, 2nd referee, Timekeeper, 2nd timekeeper (for sending offs), Goal line judge x 2, scorekeeper and scruitineer. In Scotland it’s usually just 2 refs, timekeeper and a scorekeeper.

The timekeeper needs a horn, 2 timers (1 for sending off) and disciplinary forms.

1st referee has overall control, is nearer the officials table and makes any final decisions.

Referees work with lead and trailing, lead to your right so you are inline with the goal on your right if the ball might go into it so you can check it crossed the line. The trailing referee should keep an eye on the rest of play and generally won’t go past the 6 m line.

Player equipment – boats of the same colour, helmet with a guard covering the chin and holes no larger than 7cm. Bumpers should be compressable by at least 1cm with a thumb. Buoyancy aid (body protector) should be 15mm thick with side padding. Numbers should be 10cm high on front, 20cm high on back and 7.5cm on each side of the helmet.

Playing time is ideally 10mins each half with 3 min break. In Scotland Div 4 it’s 6 mins each half with minimal break.

A free throw is given to the team that did not cause the sanction, must be presented, will not have a starting whistle, must be taken with 5 seconds or being in position and can not be shot directly at goal. The ball must travel 1m horizontally. Referee points with open palm in direction of play. They are given for…

  • Start infringement (e.g. two people from same team go for ball
  • Sideline, corner or goal line throw

If the throw is not legal (e.g. no presentation) then the opposing team gets a free throw.

A free shot is the same as a free throw but for illegal play, it can be shot directly at goal. The referee points in direction of play. Given for…

  • Obstruction/holding (touching another boat with hands, touching goalie’s boat)
  • Illegal tackle (at 90 degrees, over cockpit, not in possession of ball)
  • Illegal possession (holding for 5 seconds, paddling with ball on deck
  • Illegal use of paddle (paddle near ball, paddle over bow in reach, paddling off opposition boat)

A goal penalty shot is given when the referee considers a goal the most likely outcome. Taken from 6m with other plays at half way.

A referee’s ball is given when two players are holding the ball for 5 seconds.

A green card is given on any dangerous or deliberate illegal play. A yellow card on 3 green cards or for any dangerous AND deliberate play, the player stays off for 2 minutes. A red card is the second yellow card and the player stays off for this game and the next. When giving a card, call time out, call the player over, show score keeper and player card. When more then 1 player has caused an offense a team card can be give, present to the captain.

The captain should wear an armband.

The referee can call play on if illegal play is observed but the team would be disadvantaged by stopping. After 1 pass the ref can change his mind on this.

The goal keeper is the player most directly under the goal and facing out towards the pitch.

On time out and any time you want to gain control of the players use a triple whistle.

To complete the course and be a qualified Grade 3 referee I need to be observed as referee and have the assessment form filled in.

Andy Jackson Fund for Access

The Andy Jackson Fund for Access is a charity set up in the name of a legendary Scottish whitewater paddler to help the access situation to interesting rivers for canoeists.

Last year a paddler who I respect lots Chris Dickenson posted a rant on ukriversguidebook forum, a common place for people to post rants on. The rant was long but hard to pin down what it was about. One of his concerns seemed to be that the SCA wasn’t giving the money from the guidebooks to the Access Fund as they had pledged.

A quick look at the Access Fund entry on the Charity Regulator website shows that the charity does indeed get income every year but that it didn’t have any outgoings until 2012 and even then only £662 and in 2013 only £500. The only information on the charity is on the poorly maintained Where’s the Water website. There’s no indication of what projects they fund or who their trustees are or who their membership is.

Intrigued I sent an old fashioned letter to the address on the OSCR website asking for their latest accounts and annual report. After a couple of weeks I got the accounts and report ending 31st March 2013 dated December 2013.



As of 2013 there’s 4 trustees, Bridget Thomas (chair), Robin Cole, John Picken (treasurer) and Ron Cameron. Eddie Palmer’s name was on it but has been scored out presumably because he stepped down when he became president of the SCA. Robin Cole was added, presumbly when he took over from Eddy as the chair of the SCA Access Committee. Kenny Biggin stood down, no reason given.

The annual report says they do receive funds from the guidebooks.

The only activity given in the annual report is that two projects were suspended, Kinlochleven and Fort William Tailrace. There’s no indication of what these projects were or why they were suspended.

They have £11,562 in the bank.

The actual accounts do list some more activities. In 2012 there’s two items marked “Steps at Netherton on River Blackwater” and another marked “Steps on the River Garry” and in 2013 one marked “To SCA for Land Reform Consultation”.

And that’s it. No indication that they plan to do anything more with the money they keep receiving from the guidebooks, no modern means of communication like a website or e-mail or even telephone number. No suggestions of what sort of projects they would be wanting to support.

I expect that like a lot of volunteer committees the Andy Jackson Fund for Access is made up of people who don’t have the time or energy to give to the project as it deserves or even to ask for other people who could do so. This is a shame as many people buy the books expecting them to go to good caueses when in reality the money is just sitting in a bank account. Chris Dickenson’s rant that they are not being given the dues they are owned by the SCA is quite defaming and wrong. Many SCA committees are made up of volunteers who do a lot of hard work but then fail to show that by updating their pages on the SCA website (the access committee might well but one of them) with the result that people complain about the SCA don’t care or fund whitewater and only cares about sprint/slalom (which gets lots of funding from SportScotland). Here we have rare funding for whitewater paddling that isn’t being used. The Access Fund would benefit greatly from advertising itself and actively asking people to apply for grants.