CEO Corner: Time flies in the water polo world

(24.10.2015) – Where has the year gone? It seems like it’s been a blink of an eye since the start of the year when the National Water Polo League (NWPL) was beginning and now we are in late October with the domestic and international seasons for 2015 at an end.

The start of October saw the domestic season conclude with the 16 and Under National Club Championships, and I would like to extend my congratulations to the Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers and the City Beach Bears for the winning the girl’s and boy’s events respectively.

In particular I would like to highlight the win by the City Beach club. As we all know, winning a national title takes a significant effort and this year City Beach have won three national titles, the boy’s 14s, 16s and 18s events, an extraordinary effort. The club has done an outstanding job, and in particular I think it pertinent to highlight the work done by Head Coach Andre Kovalenko, Director of Junior Development Damian Kelly and club President Peter Hughes, a job well done.

Meanwhile on the international stage I have recently returned from the LEN Conference in Vienna. The conference is a forum for all the coaches of European, Asian and the Pan Pacific meet to discuss tournaments and who will host them.

Through the various contacts we have at an international level, we are able to discuss the inclusion of Australian teams in various tournaments, and in particular earmark events that are on the “wish lists” of our Australian international coaches.

Out of the pool we have also had a significant month. At the 16 and Under National Club Championships we rolled out a pilot program named ‘Think.Act.Play’. The premise of this is to highlight and encourage positive behavior from athletes, coaches, staff and supporters alike to act within the spirit of the game. From the initial feedback received I am pleased to report the following:

  • 94% of respondents would like to see this program rolled out at all competition levels
  • 91% believe awards for good sportsmanship are important
  • 99% would like to see a post game handshake introduced at all levels.

I would like to thank the NSW Department of Sport and Recreation for their assistance in developing the program, and look forward to working with them to take it from a pilot program to a permanent fixture across water polo in Australia.

Thanks also goes to Australian team members Richie Campbell and Zoe Arancini, Aussie Sharks assistant coach Paul Oberman, and Cronulla Sharks women’s coach and Olympic bronze medallist Rebecca Rippon for taking time out of their schedules to work with athletes and coaches on this program.

You can read more about Think.Act.Play here.

In recent weeks we also finalised a partnership with ‘Pride In Diversity’ who are aimed at assisting with all aspects of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) inclusion. This is an important step to ensure that we are supporting our staff and athletes as best as we can, by having the resources we need available.

Our membership with Pride In Diversity also aligns well with the NWPL Pride Cup, which has been initiated by the Victorian Seals ahead of the upcoming season. You can read more about our membership with Pride In Diversity here.

Finally I would like to announce the recipients of the Fred Mayer Scholarship, which is awarded to junior athletes currently competing at any stage within the national pathway, and who may need assistance in the pursuit of their goals.

For 2015 we have Keellan Milinkovic from NSW, Lachlan Pethick from Western Australia and Ashleigh Roberts from Queensland. I hope that this assistance can help all three of these players achieve their dreams and uphold the legacy of Fred Mayer in doing so. I thank the Mayer family for their support of Water Polo Australia.

Looking ahead we have a number of exciting events happening in the coming weeks. The Aussie Stingers will send two teams on tour; with one heading to Japan while the other half of the squad travels to Europe, Rio and America. Meanwhile the Aussie Sharks will return to training, while excitingly the 27th NWPL season is just around the corner.

Until next time, I hope you score some goals.

Chris Harrison

CEO – Water Polo Australia