Dodgeball World Cup: Inaugural tournament held in Manchester
If you think dodgeball is just about a Hollywood movie, then it is time to think again.
Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn battling it out on the dodgeball court may have propelled the sport into the mainstream, but this weekend the game hits another level with the inaugural Dodgeball World Cup in Manchester.
The top eight men's and women's teams from 10 countries and five continents will battle it out to be crowned the best in the world.
Crowds of 1,000 are expected each day at the National Basketball Arena in Belle Vue Sports Village to watch the nations collide.
|Dodgeball World Cup|
|Qualifying began last year with 30 nations, which were whittled down via continental competitions||Teams have six players on court with up to four substitutes.|
|Men's: England, USA, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Malaysia, Australia, Egypt||Matches are 30 minutes long, two 15-minute halves. Each set lasts three minutes. Team with the most sets at the end of the match wins.|
|Women's: England, Wales, Austria, Italy, USA, Egypt, Australia (Malaysia will play Northern Ireland in a play-off on Friday for the last remaining place.||The object of Dodgeball is to eliminate your opponents before they eliminate you by hitting them with a ball.|
Six-time European champions England and the USA are the favourites in the men's tournament, while the women's draw is wide open. Wales shocked England at last year's European championships and America and Australia are expected to challenge.
"Most of the world would like to see a England v USA final in the men's draw, " said World Dodgeball Association (WBA) president Tom Hickson.
The film DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story was released in 2004, but the sport has been played in Japan for the past 60 years.
Hickson says the film helped gain "traction" for the sport, and the UK Dodgeball Association was established in 2005 and there are 750,000 active players in this country.
It is even bigger in the US, with 9.7 million players and a club world championship, while 2.1 million play the sport in Australia.
The WBA, which is also based in Manchester, works with 57 nations on grassroots and high performance programmes.
It hopes the World Cup will be a watershed moment for the sport and its long-term aim of getting dodgeball into the Olympics and Paralympics.
"With it being the first ever World Cup it is a huge milestone, a historic weekend," said Hickson.
"We hope that in 15 and 20 years in the future we can look back at that first World Cup and say that Olympic sport started in Manchester.
"We want to increase participation in dodgeball in the UK and across the world as a result of young people watching at the National Basketball Arena and the live stream on our website and think 'one day I want to play for my country'."