The made-in-Manitoba sport of underwater football is in jeopardy after it was denied recognition by Sport Manitoba.
This news comes as the Manitoba Underwater Council – underwater football’s parent organization – failed to meet the requirements to stay under the umbrella of Sport Manitoba.
“This is in no way trying to eliminate an activity,” said Janet McMahon, president and CEO of Sport Manitoba, in an interview on Tuesday.
“But it is around trying to create some standards that everyone can meet [so] that we can guarantee that participants have quality programming, that we are offering it to everyone, and it’s similar across the board in terms of what the expectations are.”
Underwater football started at the University of Manitoba in the 1960s and is played in several provinces today.
The lack of recognition doesn’t impact whether affected organizations can continue operating as clubs or provincial bodies, but means they aren’t eligible for funding and services provided by Sport Manitoba.
For the Manitoba Underwater Council, the issue lies with losing out on liability insurance, as without it, pools can’t be booked.
Keith Peters, president of the University of Manitoba Underwater Football Club, said he’s been scrambling to find insurance somewhere else.
“We’re going to lose pool time. We’re not going to be able to book a pool. We’re not going to be able to run our programs. That’s a huge concern,” said Keith Peters, president of the University of Manitoba Underwater Football Club,
Peters said he’s been scrambling to find insurance somewhere else as most regular insurance companies aren’t able to cover the sport. Sport Manitoba says it is open to helping.
“We are willing to work with them to find reasonable insurance for that area, but they don’t meet the organizational standards that we require of our other 60 provincial sport bodies,” McMahon said.
There have been past situations where a sport was denied membership by Sport Manitoba, but then came back later, met the standards, and received acceptance as a provincial sports organization.