Dodgeball has become a big part of my life in Cambodia, both in terms of my time and my social life. I usually play twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at a “sports centre” just a couple of blocks away from my house. It is also where I met the majority of my friends out here, including two of my housemates, Hallie and Rachel. I was introduced to dodgeball back in August 2014 by Brian (see the blog post Social Butterflying for more on this story), and have since met countless wonderful people from all over the world through this fun, although sometimes painful, sport (see the blog post Dodging Balls for an explanation of the game and to meet a few of these people).
Last weekend saw the first ever Phnom Penh Dodgeball tournament! The buildup to this event was rather intense. Teams were assigned and we then had to come up with a team name, uniform, intimidating introduction, song, catwalk, and of course winning tactics. I was very lucky with my team as it contained several friends; Hallie, Hilde, Mark, and Tony, which made the whole process more fun. It was a lot of work but eventually we had everything we needed. Meet Snoop Dodgy Dodge!
I wrote our intimidating team introduction in lieu of any reliable sporting ability. In fact it was initially a rap, written to Snoop’s part in Katy Perry’s California Gurls but no one would rap over the music so I rewrote it into an actual paragraph. As for the team song? There really was no other option: All I Do Is Win. Walking out to this tune for our catwalk with Snoop Dogg masks on was hilarious – I couldn’t see where I was and had no idea where my team mates were. Then we started throwing fake money and Mark topped off the show by opening some champagne. We had quite the mess of soggy paper and sticky mats to clean up before we could resume play after the halftime show! It was definitely worth the mopping effort however as we won the “best catwalk” prize of a $5 food voucher. And although I loved our team name, I am so glad that Rachel’s risqué “Phnom Penhetration” won best team name. That and the hilarious, putdown signs she and her team taped to the walls of the sports centre.
As for playing? Well I’ll be the first to admit that we had a very strong team! Tony is one of the godfathers of dodgeball (the strong, powerful guys who are usually the last players left on the court along with John [club founder and tournament organiser], Brian and Mervin). Then we had a P.E. teacher, David, and Mark who’s an excellent all-round player. We also had Will, an expat kid who has literally no fear and will hurl himself into catching any ball! Add in Tiny T, our Cambodian representative, and you have our guys! And then there were the girls: myself, Hallie, Hilde and Cayla. We may not throw such powerful balls but often the smaller “girl” balls are harder to catch and often hit targets without them realising they’re coming. We certainly all played our best and made some crucial catches and excellent throws throughout the day.
The result? WE WON! After being the only team to win all three of the group stage games, we went on to defeat two other teams in the knockout stages, securing our place in the final. The knockout and final games were best out of five. We won the first two final matches against the Pajamarama team but then lost the second two. Despite claiming that I didn’t really care too much about winning upon arriving at the court that morning (at 8am!), by the time the ball dropped, signalling the start of the final match, I was buzzing with adrenaline, feeling spurred on by friends cheering our team from the sidelines. I couldn’t really tell you much about those last few games. They passed in a blur of excitement and balls. All I know is that suddenly there was only one pyjama-clad player left opposite us, with our active players numbering at least six, myself included. I guess he really didn’t have a chance! Everyone cheered as the ball bounced off his chest and he didn’t quite manage to catch it in time. We jumped around like loons, hugging and wooping, before going over to shake hands with the second place team, something we started doing early in the tournament as a sign of good sportsmanship. I hadn’t taken part in a proper sporting event since primary school (B team tag rugby!) and I loved the experience. Well maybe not getting up at 7am on a Saturday but it was worth it in the end. Look how happy we are!!!
Victorious, we got presented with our medals and another $5 food voucher prize before heading home to de-Snoop Dogg our hair, shower off the day’s sweat, and get ready for our dodgeball afterparty. The memories of the Dodgeball tournament will stay with me forever. There was such an amazing atmosphere throughout the whole day. Although it was a competition and there were elements of competitiveness, naturally, the days stands out for me as a time when expats came together to enjoy something different, to share their passion for a sport, and to celebrate people’s abilities. Oh and did I mention that we made the front cover of a national newspaper, alongside Michelle Obama and had a 2 minute news broadcast on a national TV network? I am officially a sporting superstar and can’t wait to take part in Phnom Penh’s second Dodgeball Tournament next year! Bring it on!!!