Two Outstanding Contributors and Role Models to the Sport of Canoe Polo


The BCU has recently recognised two outstanding players by honouring them with the Award of Merit. As they retire from competitive international Canoe Polo, their lifetime achievements are fully deserving of this highly commendable award.

Alan Vessey

Alan Vessey’s accomplishments in Canoe Polo are second to none, both domestically and for over 20 years internationally as part of the Great Britain National team. He is a face that is recognised and respected around the World and being presented the British Canoe Unions Award of Merit reflects the appreciation of many involved in Canoe Polo. A summary of this achievements and commitment to the sport follows but this is merely just a flavour of his dedication.

Alan is a founding player of St.Albans Canoe Club, where he was coached by his father, Ron Vessey, who himself, was very influential in establishing Canoe Polo as we know it today. Alan has had numerous successes including; 6 National League Victories and 6 National Championship wins. Now not playing for the Club, he is Chairman and coaches various teams. For Alan his heart is embedded in St. Albans Canoe Club.

Alan has dedicated much of his life to the National team, having attended 17 Major Championships achieving; 2 World Gold’s, 1 European Gold and medalled at a further 10 Championships. Statistics that are unlikely to be exceeded by another player for a long time. He has not just played, but for many years managed the squads, taking on responsibilities on top of that of a player. Alan is now retired from playing internationally but as Squads Manager is still leading the National teams to victories, including coaching the men’s team this year to a European Bronze Medal.

Ginny Coyles

Ginny has been paddling for over 20 years and during this time she has become one of the most inspirational canoe polo players the women’s game has ever seen.

Ginny currently plays with Liverpool Friends of Allonby Canoe Club and has played in Regional, National and International Leagues all with a high level of success.

During Ginny’s time as a Great Britain Senior Ladies player she has played with and captained teams through highs and lows and most recently through some of the most successful times the team has ever had.

Ginny’s Achievements Include:

4 x World Champion (96, 04, 08, 2010)

4 x European Champion (97, 01, 05, 09)

World Games Champion (2009 and silver 2005)


National League (women) 14 x winner (Mutineers and Liverpool FOA)

National Championships (women) – 11 x winner (Mutineers and Liverpool FOA)

European Club Championships – 4 x winner (06, 08, 09, 2011)

World Masters Games 2009 Bronze medal with Mutineers

Throughout Ginny’s player career she has been completely dedicated to training and competing at the highest standard in the world. She has always remained motivated and determined to battle her way to the top leading by example. During the last three seasons of Ginny’s international game 2008, 2009, 2010 she was able to achieve a goal that she has been aiming for for many years; to retain the Worlds title along with the World Games and the European Championship title. The journey to these successes was difficult and challenging but through determination, sacrifices and team work, Ginny was able to lead the team to some amazing victories and hang up her International paddles truly at the top of the World.

Ginny is continuing to play polo with her club teams at National and International competitions and she is also providing her experience, skills and expertise to the National Squads helping to develop the teams and players.

Ginny is a role model to many aspiring canoe polo players through her skills and ability but also through her passion, commitment and hard work to become one of the best players in the world.

 With thanks to Ed Feltham and Kathryn Grieves for writing this article, it will be printed in the next Canoe Focus Magazine.

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