A brother-sister duo from Victoria is set to chuck balls at the world when they play for Team Canada in the World Dodgeball Championships later this month in Edmonton.
Zion and Riel Leaf both loved dodgeball during gym class at school and after they graduated, their mom signed Zion up for an adult recreation league, and then Zion, now 25, invited Riel, 21, to come along.
“I was 16 when I started, and I was playing against 30-year-old men mostly and I thought, ‘Okay, this is not high school anymore,’” Riel said.
The pair loved the sport and as more members joined, they were able to learn more and improve their skills, with both competing at provincial and national championships in recent years. Riel has also previously played for a New Zealand invitational team in the Asia Pacific Invitational in Auckland after her skills were spotted while she was travelling in the country.
“That’s another reason why we love dodgeball because no matter where you go in the world, there is going to be dodgeball somewhere,” she said.
Around March of this year they sent in videos of themselves playing as an audition tape of sorts to try and get on the national team. The two were the only players chosen to the co-ed squad from B.C.
“It happened very quickly, we submitted and then a couple of weeks later, we got the phone call and then (we’re) flying out to practices. I think because everything was thrown off by the pandemic – everyone wanted to get into it as quickly as possible,” Riel said.
The pair were scheduled to fly to Winnipeg on Thursday (Aug. 4) for one more set of workouts with the team before the tournament begins Aug. 31.
“It’s really cool because high school dodgeball is just chaos. There’s no real format or strategy, it’s just chuck balls at your friends. But this is actual competitive dodgeball, there are so many strategies and integrity and rules, it’s way more complex.”
The pair have started an online fundraiser to help cover travel costs to reach the tournament.