Head Coach Sakis Kechagias has named the Aussie Stingers squad for the 2017 FINA World Championships, which kicks off in Budapest on 16 July.
Following on from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 2017 presents a rebuilding phase for the side providing an opportunity for some fresh faces to step into the senior team.
It has been a busy few months for Kechagias, who joined Water Polo Australia in March this year coming from the Greek national team.
“This is the start of our Olympic cycle with our goal to work towards the Tokyo Games.
“We wanted to have a team at the World Championships this year but we wanted to also provide players who have work and university the opportunity to commit to those obligations as well. That means our preparation has been slightly harder leading into this Tournament.
“The World League Finals (earlier in June) showed us where we are in the world and now we need to focus on taking those steps towards the next Olympic Games. I do believe here in Australia we have the talent and we will be working hard to develop a competitive team,” said Kechagias.
With water polo one of the most popular sports in Hungary, it is set to draw some of the biggest crowds at the FINA World Championships with a lot of sessions already sold out.
Captaining the Aussies Stingers is dual Olympian Rowie Webster, who is looking forward to getting back to the big game atmosphere that Budapest is certain to deliver.
“Budapest is going to be huge! The atmosphere on Margaret Island, aka ‘Water Polo Island’, is going to be phenomenal. I’m sure we can expect a lot of chanting and drums… it will be really exciting – it’s basically the home of Water Polo,” she said.
Webster echoed her Coaches sentiment in that the World Championships for the Aussie Stingers is about rebuilding as part of this new Olympic cycle.
“I think this Tournament for us we will look to build on each game. We haven’t actually played a game this international season where we have all been together, so it will be really exciting.
“We can mix it with some of the top teams and of course everyone is looking to come away with a medal but for us it’s all about the end goal of the Tokyo (Olympics),” said Webster.
The likes of Webster are mentoring the next generation of players and Amy Ridge, who’ll make her potential World Championships debut for the Aussie Stingers, said she has already learnt a lot from her Captain.
“I played National League with Rowie this season and that’s really inspired me to work hard. She’s a really hard worker and such a great team mate that has helped me improve,” said Ridge.
“It’s been amazing to learn from the Olympians in the team, and it’s really good for the juniors to have a chance to be in the senior team this season with a couple of people away. We have all gained a lot of really valuable experience.
“This is my first international season with the Aussie Stingers and I’m very excited – it’s going to be a really great atmosphere in Hungary,” said Ridge.
Along with Webster, fellow Rio Olympians joining the side include Zoe Arancini, Isobel Bishop, Hannah Buckling, Keesja Gofers and Lea Yanitsas.
The Aussie Stingers have drawn Kazakhstan, Russia and Greece in their pool of the FINA World League Tournament. The final 13 selected in the World Championship team will be named next week.
Aussie Stingers Squad
|Isobel Bishop||NSW||Sydney Uni||LHD|
|Hannah Buckling||NSW||Sydney Uni||CB|
|Keesja Gofers||NSW||Sydney Uni||LHD|
|Bronte Halligan||NSW||Sydney Uni||LHD|
|Lilian Hedges||WA||Fremantle Marlins||GK|
|Lea Yanitsas||NSW||Sydney Uni||GK|
Women’s Water Polo Groups for the FINA World Championships
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|– Italy||– New Zealand||– Japan||– Australia|
|– Brazil||– South Africa||– Netherlands||– Russia|
|– Canada||– Spain||– Hungary||– Kazakhstan|
|– China||– USA||– France||– Greece|
2017. JULY 16.
MATCHDAY 1: AUSTRALIA – KAZAKHSTAN (PRELIMINARY ROUND)
LOCAL TIME – Budapest, Hungary 18:50 – 19:55
AUS TIME – Sydney, Australia 02:50 – 03:55
2017. JULY 18.
MATCHDAY 2: AUSTRALIA – RUSSIA (PRELIMINARY ROUND)
LOCAL TIME – Budapest, Hungary 17:30 – 18:35
AUS TIME – Sydney, Australia 01:30 – 02:35
2017. JULY 20.
MATCHDAY 3: AUSTRALIA – GREECE (PRELIMINARY ROUND)
LOCAL TIME – Budapest, Hungary 10:50 – 11:55
AUS TIME – Sydney, Australia 18:50 – 19:55