Pride Cup goes on the line tomorrow night

In OVO Australian Waterpolo League’s round eight OVOPlay live stream match, Brisbane Barracudas will be out to secure bragging rights against Queensland Breakers in the second Queensland derby this season as part of the pride and diversity round.

Culminating with this fixture is the Pride Shield which is in its third year after the inaugural match between Melbourne Surge and Sydney Stingers in 2016 as part of Melbourne’s mid-Summer festival.

It provided a big celebration demonstrating water polo’s belief and commitment to supporting diversity in the sport.

Proving to be a successful collaboration between Water Polo Victoria and Water Polo Australia, the event was hosted in 2017 with the help of Water Polo Queensland and Brisbane Barracudas.

Water Polo Australia Board member Steve Blunt is proud of the sport’s commitment to raising awareness for pride and diversity within sport.

“We support diversity holistically, there are many elements to this view and irrespective of your gender, race, religion or sexuality you are welcomed in the sport of water polo,” he said.

The OVOPlay live stream Pride Cup match between Brisbane Barracudas and Queensland Breakers is set to celebrate the pride and diversity round through wearing rainbow caps as well as live streaming the Pride Shield match conducted between the women’s and men’s Pride Cup matches.

The original goal for Pride Cup was to see the event rotate around Australia to ensure the celebration of diversity throughout water polo is captured on a national platform to increase awareness.

Diversity and Marketing Manager for the Water Polo Queensland Board, Jeremy Archer is thrilled at the opportunity this round presents to water polo in Queensland.

“We are excited to be part of the inclusion of all communities and all people at participating in water polo and encouraging people to participate is important regardless of background or beliefs.

“I would urge other sports to support diversity by connecting with LGBTI support communities and other organisations like Water Polo Australia and Water Polo Queensland for support in including people with different backgrounds and beliefs because sport is so important for physical and mental health,” he said.

As one of three foundation members on the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Sports Commission Pride in Sport Index, Water Polo Australia believes diversity and inclusion should happen in sport.

In 2017, at the annual LGBTI Inclusion Awards, as a sport water polo received two awards:

  • Inclusive Coach (sport) – Mel Rippon, Brisbane Tritons Water Polo and Damien Hicks, Brisbane Barracudas
  • Inclusive Sports Initiative – Water Polo Pride Cup

Brisbane Barracudas women’s head coach Melissa Rippon is proud of the gains her team has made since beginning the season and feels her team will be able to secure victory tomorrow night.

Rippon may blood a debutant for the big match but has pinpointed Barracudas player Jess Emerson to have a huge impact on the game.

“Emerson has been one of our most consistent performers and is only just starting to understand how good she can be, I would love to see her make her mark on the game this week.

“Bronte (Colenso) is always a threat and has been so valuable to the team with her leadership and her attitude towards hard work. Our Aussie Stingers members Gabi (Palm) and Abby (Andrews) are both exciting players who also have the ability to change a game,” she said.

Rippon realises the importance of pride and diversity round for water polo to continue creating inclusive environments.

“Water Polo is one of the sports that is leading the way in creating an inclusive environment for anyone to play the sport. The pride and diversity round gives us an opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made in embracing the LGBTIQ community,” she said.

Rippon’s Breakers counterpart Bronwen Knox was pleased with her team’s effort in Adelaide during round seven and believes her team is confident for tomorrow night’s match aiming to go back to back in the 2018 derby stakes.

“Our momentum has been building game by game since round one and with myself coming back into the team we have found a new balance.

“When playing other teams, it’s always that extra bit of unknown for the younger girls in our team, but the best part about playing Barracudas, it’s not something new and reassures our younger players which is comforting for them.

“There is also a bit of pride on the line meaning there will be nerves, but more of the excited type,” she said.

Both teams will be very familiar with each player’s individual style and pet plays which is what Knox and her team will be focused on during a light training week.

“We train day in and day out with the same girls either side, we’ll sit down and have a chat about what their strengths and weaknesses are.

“We will be making sure we know what people do when they’re going well and what they do when they’re not going well and make sure our players knows who they’re marking up against,” she said.

Knox is also looking towards her Aussie Stingers players to stand up and lead during this important match.

“Alice Williams, Bridget Leeson-Smith and Georgia Hickey, I want them to step up and take on the challenge of being a leader and making calls in the water, as well as all the senior girls like Ashleigh Roberts, Katelyn Sheterline and even young Sophie Milliken.

“They’re all capable, it’s just having the confidence to do it and run with it,” she said.

Knox knows this round is not only important for her team and place on the competition ladder, but also for the wider water polo community raising awareness of pride and diversity within the sport.

“Its absolutely imperative to have rounds like this, they give awareness and make everybody within our community feel welcome.

“You need to bring light to it to affect change. It will be a really big show, celebrating that we are inclusive,” she said.

Youngsters Charlice Andrews and Kasey Williams return to the Breakers team after competing at last weekend’s annual Queensland School Sport water polo competition and gaining selection to the Queensland Schools team.

Brisbane Barracudas men’s team has been continually improving throughout the season and as a young team will be excited to get back in the pool this weekend after four losses on their round seven Sydney road trip.

In a boost for the Barracudas, injured player Billy Miller will return from Los Angeles to coach the men’s team with fellow injured player Rhys Howden.

Coming off one win in their Adelaide trip, Queensland Breakers men’s head coach Dmitry Gorshkov has a team heading into Saturday feeling motivated and positive about their upcoming match.

“Both teams are basically at the same level as each other, it is all about motivation, who is motivated to win the game the most and who doesn’t give up during the game,” he said.

Tom Hardwick’s, Tyler Sinclair, Stuart Greenbank and new dad Anthony Martin are available for Breakers selection this week.

In a game where the first derby ended in a penalty shootout, Gorshkov’s men have not done much mid-season penalty practice.

What does the Pride Cup have in store for us this weekend?

To view full fixtures for this weekend, click here.

Can’t make it poolside? Watch it via OVOPlay.

Brisbane Barracudas vs Queensland Breakers

Saturday March 24, Valley Pool

Women’s OVO AWL match 5:30pm AEST

Pride Shield (Brisbane Tritons, Melbourne Surge and Sydney Stingers) match 7:20pm AEST

Men’s OVO AWL match 8:30pm AEST

Together Brisbane Barracudas and Brisabane Tritons will be hosting the official Pride Cup after party, tickets are just $10, for more information click here.