Bike PoloThat is the headline being used by the Victoria Bike Polo league for the Balls In the City this weekend, which is the culmination of the first annual Victoria International Cycling Festival (VICF). The festival wraps up with a bang by way of amazing events such as, Jumpship, Peddling Art at the Oswego Hotel and the rapidly growing sport of Hardcourt Bike Polo happening at the 400 block of Belleville Street, right in front of the Hotel Grand Pacific.

What is Hardcourt Bike Polo you may ask? Well, stay a while and listen!

Hardcourt Bike Polo is an adaptation of standard bicycle polo created a way long time ago in Ireland by a retired cyclist. It emulated regular polo in many ways, but obviously, was conducted on bicycle rather than horseback (or Elephants in India).

Hardcourt has historically been said to begin in Seattle around the turn of the millennium, by a small group of bike couriers. Usually played on any sort of hard surface like a rooftop, tennis court or tarmac (hence: hardcourt) it can vary from three to five players a side and is played using a road hockey ball and mallet of sorts to hit the ball into the opposing team’s goal.

Since bike couriers are naturally quite competitive (nature of the business), it has grown steadily around the world over the last decade. Hardcourt has seen an explosive boom in the last three or four years as tournaments have been popping up in major cities across the globe. The spectacle and intensity of league competition has also emerged tremendously.

Or  check out this video by the by the original Co-founder of Hardcourt Bike Polo, Mike Messenger:

For more history, check out leagueofbikepolo.com. It is full of information, history and DIYs for hardcourt action.

Victoria has a regular group of Hardcourt players who meet and play  a couple of days per week. Balls in the City will be the first major tournament held in Victoria for an international competition. As you can tell from their Facebook page, which has the group listed as a religious affiliation, the good Hardcourt folks take the sport fairly seriously, yet still with an open mind and heart.

This weekend, in conjunction with Jumpship, Peddling Art and the wrap up of the VICF, the Inner Harbour is going to be packed with cycling and bike related events and festivities and is promising entertainment for all. If you are living on a student budget like me or are just looking for a good time with a great entertainment value, don’t miss out on the action downtown this weekend.

This is the kick off to summer and the beginning of what promises to be an action-packed season of festivals, events and activities. I hope to see thousands of people downtown… and don’t forget to say hello to this fresh face to Victoria. If we miss each other in person, feel free to sound off in the comment section below about what you thought of these events!