More than 170 young water polo players from across the country descended on Wagga Wagga for the inaugural national U12 Water Polo Festival.
Across three days the young boys and girls put their skills to the test and demonstrated strong team work and capabilities in a national tournament.
For full results click here.
While the aim of the Festival was about participation and fun, there were also Championship trophies on the line.
In the Boys Championship final it came down to the wire in a classic city verse country battle with locals Ovens and Murray Cobras taking on Sydney Northern Beaches.
Scores were locked seven a piece with only seconds left on the clock. Ovens and Murray Cobras scored the match winning goal on the buzzer, with the crowd erupting.
Ovens and Murray Cobras Coach, Shannon Gould said it was an incredible Tournament.
“I’m very happy with the guys, they trained pretty hard over the last few months to get ready for this.
“We’ve done a couple of little tournaments but to get a national championships is an amazing effort for these young guys.
“It is important at a young age to focus on being a team. If you lighten the load for everyone it makes it a lot easier in the pool. The boys worked really well together and it proved a good effort in the end,” said Gould.
In the girls final it was a State of origin battle with Queensland’s Mermaids team taking on New South Wales, Drummoyne Devils.
The interstate Mermaids were a dominate force, coming off the back of the recent Tournament victory at the Balmain U12s Festival. They were able to claim an impressive 14-0 win over the Devils.
“It has been a fantastic couple of days for the kids to play at,” said Mermaids Coach Nicola Johnson.
“For us it’s about developing skills in the kids, who then go on play in different competitions and at school.
“I think the final was the best game they played – they put in some good cross passes and some good things we put into practice. We couldn’t be happier,” she said.
Like all WPA National Championships, competitors, coaches and officials take part in the Think.Act.Play program which is about sportsmanship and teamwork. The U12s was a tournament that bought those values to life across the entire event.
It wasn’t just the young guns getting into the action, with dual Olympian AJ Roach on hand to help out with refereeing, Think.Act.Play programs as well as manning the Delfina Sport stall.
Delfina Sport proudly support Water Polo Australia and had specially designed tournament swimmers and merchandise on offer.
While Roach’s preferred position is in the pool rather than pacing the deck with a whistle in hand, he was only too happy to part of the Tournament.
“We didn’t have an U12s competitions when I was young – this is just awesome.
“The kid’s skills are so good already at the age 10 and 11, it’s been great to be down here and see them develop.
“I’ve absolutely loved it here in Wagga, there is a great pool, a great set up, I’d like to come down here a lot more for Tournaments. The town is great, everyone gets behind water polo so it’s been a really good experience,” said Roach.
For full results – click here.