Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Team Manitoba ready to make a splash
Manitoba’s new provincial water polo program will be on display this weekend as a major competition splashes down at the Pan Am Pool.
The 16U Girls National Club Championships will be contested from May 18 to 21, and Manitoba’s entry will be a provincial team that includes players from both local clubs, Bushido and Neptunes, as well as from Selkirk.
Boys and girls provincial teams in the 16- and 18-and-under age categories were established last fall to give Manitoba’s best athletes a better chance to compete with populous water polo provinces like Ontario and Quebec.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan will enter provincial teams, while nine clubs from B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec will round out the field.
Mike Reid, the coach of the provincial team, said Manitoba’s low ranking in water polo is largely because of how far teams must travel to find quality competition.
"Getting quality competition for development has always been a problem in Manitoba," said the River Heights resident. "The next closest team to us is Regina, and after that it’s Calgary."
While Ontario and Quebec teams are a short drive away from another top-tier club, Manitobans can only do so much before travel costs become prohibitive.
Seven of the Manitoba players who will be competing in Winnipeg were also part of the U18 team that went to Kamloops earlier this month for that national championship. Reid is hoping that experience will give them some added confidence heading into the U16 event.
"It’s a great step for them," he said. "It’s always nice as an athlete to play up a level and then go down and play in your own age group. My expectations are high, but also somewhat realistic."
Reid has stressed two things with his team since forming the provincial team: showing up and working hard.
"Showing up sounds obvious, but we have to be there in mind, spirit and body, and be prepared to play," he said. "The difference in skill level between Team Manitoba… compared to the top teams is very small. Effort and hard work will have a large impact on how they do in the tournament."
Cam McIntyre, the competition chair, said the local clubs hope to attract interest in the sport when they host big events like the nationals.
"We try to get people at the pool seeing games played at a high calibre and enjoying it," said the Charleswood resident. "Some of the clubs host it as a source of funding. We try to get sponsorships that go towards helping us buy equipment."
For people who’ve never seen a high-level water polo match, McIntyre described it as "a mixture of wrestling, basketball and soccer, all in the water."
McIntyre added that endurance is a requirement for the players, as they can swim as much as a mile and a half in each game.
For a complete tournament schedule, visit waterpolo.ca.
(1 of 5 articles for this week)05/15/2013 1:00 AM 0
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