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Fantastic Growth ….as water polo makes waves

Players from Holy Name Convent and St. Joseph’s Convent POS battle for the ball during the second match of the Secondary Schools’ Water Polo League.
Action in the first match of the league. Fatima vs CIC in Category D—first form mini polo. CIC beat Fatima 6-4.

For the fifth consecutive year, Royhil Seals Water Polo Club is hosting the Secondary Schools’ Water Polo League.

The league, which was opened two Saturdays ago at the Marlins Swim Pool and is sponsored by First Citizens for the second year to the tune $75, 000, has expanded and grown tremendously since its inception in 2002.

The inspiration behind the league Ryan Smith described the growth as fantastic.

Morvant Laventille Secondary School has entered a team in Category D—first form male mini polo.

Hayden Tidd who was the coach of Maryland RC, a team that caused huge upsets by taking the Primary Schools’ female mini polo competition last year is now the coach of Morvant Laventille.

He felt that his new teams would do well in the tournament.

“We can give the other teams a good challenge. I am happy we are able to come out and play. I want to continue with them, especially as some players are from Maryland RC. Hopefully they will continue to carry on to the full version of the game when they have to swim in the deep.”

The league was developed with the purpose of improving water polo and to raise the quality of young players.

So far it has been very successful, producing many players who have represented T&T and others who are vying for places on the national team to go to the Carifta Games to be held in Curacao in April and the CCCAN competition in El Salvador in June.

There were no new entries in categories B—open female as Providence Girls’ Catholic, Holy Name Convent and St. Joseph’s Convent POS will battle for the championships.

With categories D and E, form one male and female, there are the new teams, Morvant/Laventille Secondary.

In the senior and under-15 male categories, there were no new entries with the traditional QRC, CIC, St Anthony’s and Fatima being the teams participating.

On his team’s chances this year, Fatima coach Kester Scanterbury said, “We have pretty good, strong swimmers; there were a couple of our guys who made trials. We have good players and a good coach. I really think we can compete although CIC is still quite strong.”

Scanterburry who is also assistant coach at Royhil also thought that his players in the under 15 and mini polo will put up a fight.

QRC has the best chance in the age group (U-15) as many of their players are on the national team already, but we are going to do our very best.”

Smith, QRC’s head coach felt well about his team’s chances in the senior category.

I expect we will do well in the senior category while we are hoping to take the under 15 championship.”

Zareef Baksh, a sixth form student at QRC who coaches the first formers said: “We have a good chance, good keeper good forwards. It really looks like we’ll have a good chance once we play well. It’s not going to be easy but I think we’re going to win.”

The league has also brought about development in refereeing. The Amateur Swimming Association (ASATT) conducted a referee’s coaching clinic in September, its second annual, with the aim of qualifying new referees and desk officials for the tournament to augment the new group that qualified from the clinic last year.

Up until the year before last, with only the two referees, things were very stressful,” says Smith.

The sport of water polo and the inter-school rivalry continues to grow as well as public and financial support as this year, Gatorade will provide their replenishing beverages to players and officials at all matches.

(Published in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspapers)

Smith said: “More interest is being showed among public and corporate world.”

Andrew ‘Birdman’ Francis, head coach of Royhil and St Anthony’s said that the tournament is important.

This league is helping to teach youngsters the game and it is setting a base for water polo in the future.”

(Published y BY JABARI FRASER in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspapers)

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