CEO Corner: High quality end to the domestic season

CEO Corner is the monthly update on all things water polo from WPA CEO Chris Harrison.

(23.05.2015) – The past few months have thrown up a whirlwind of competitions and now our main domestic competition phase has drawn to a close with the completion of the National Water Polo League (NWPL) and 20 and under national championships.

I would firstly like to extend my congratulations to all of our National League teams. Throughout the season I have witnessed and had my thoughts affirmed by many that the 2015 season was the highest quality we have seen, and the most competitive on record for a long time.

While it’s inevitable that not all teams can make the finals series, the teams that did certainly provided us with an entertaining three days. Special mention must go to the Hunter Hurricanes men’s team who not only made their first finals series, but also went home with the bronze medal.

For our 2015 champions, the Brisbane Barracudas (women) and UNSW Wests Magpies (men) the titles weren’t won easily, with both teams overcoming a highly driven and worthy opponent in the Sydney University Lions, who managed to have both their men and women’s teams in the respective championship finals.

We also had international referee George Stavrides of Greece join us for the national league finals, which continues our ongoing initiative to expose our athletes and officials to international refereeing. George was also able to assist our own referees on their development pathway, with all of them taking the chance to discuss the challenges of refereeing.

No sooner had we concluded the NWPL season than our 20 & under national championships were underway in Sydney, and in an initiative from our High Performance Unit, the tournament was played using the new FINA Junior and Youth water polo rules.

Despite mixed reactions from our players and coaches regarding the new rules, they did manage to deliver us two entertaining finals that saw the Queensland women beat the NSW Blues in a very closely fought game, while the Western Australian men held on to beat a gallant NSW Blues, breaking the Blues six year stranglehold on the competition.

It would be remiss of me to discuss our national championships of varying levels without thanking our Manager, Events and Competitions Noel Harrod. Coordinating the large number of teams, officials and also making sure venues and equipment are all in order is a hefty task and Noel has put in a sterling effort to deliver us with a successful domestic season.

As always our domestic competitions are a chance for Water Polo Australia to revaluate a number of policies, and in particular we have had a comprehensive review of all appeal and discipline rules and regulations.

There has also been a strong focus and further development to the alignment of the National Member Protection Policy across the sport for both spectators and athletes, which have been developed by Alicia Smith.

On top of the review of some of our key policies has been our push to continually improve our stakeholder engagement with our regular executive officer meetings, which have been largely focused on discussion around our national competition structure. We hope that in the coming months the results of these discussions will come to fruition.

Lastly, I would like to thank six of our national team athletes who gave up a few hours of their Saturday on May 16 to help at the Channel 7 Sydney Telethon. During the morning Aussie Stingers captain Bronwen Knox and teammates Holly Lincoln-Smith and Lea Yanitsas took to the phones, while in the afternoon fellow Stinger Nicola Zagame, and Sharks’ members Johnno Cotterill and Nathan Power competed in the ‘Big Ball Wipe Out Challenge’.

All six enjoyed the experience, and represented our sport with enthusiasm and professionalism, while also assisting in raising more than $10.5 million for Ronald McDonald House Westmead. 

Until then, I hope you score some goals

Chris Harrison

CEO – Water Polo Australia