A collaborative approach between WAIS, Water Polo WA and local clubs recently saw 65 juniors engage with Olympians and former national stars, acting as specialist coaches at HBF Stadium as the opportunity to learn new skills and develop the sport of water polo was melded together.
WAIS women’s water polo head coach Georgina Kovacs said the initiative was developed predominantly to help boost the current junior talent base in WA and enhance the existing high performance pathway for local water polo players.
Kovacs believes that all parties play an integral role in helping develop athletes from grass root through to the elite level.
“The aim is to help develop athletes who are more skilled and equipped – both technically and tactically. Broaden their understanding of the game more generally in terms of each position they play and to better assist them as they take the next few steps in their water polo development,” she said.
Speaking on the need to invest in youth development Kovacs added, “We cannot take it for granted having talents like Gemma Beadsworth, Glencora McGhie or Zoe Arancini.”
With junior water polo club members attending from Dolphins, Melville, Newman, Phantoms, Triton and UWA-City Beach, Kovacs enlisted an impressive role-call of Australian water polo royalty, who gave up their own time to impart wisdom on the future generation of Western Australian talent.
Iconic names such as; Bridgette Ireland, Danielle Woodhouse, Simone Fountain, Katie Finucane, Kelly Parks, Tomaz Lasic and current Australian Stingers representative Zoe Arancini – were all present to work with and inspire the attending club athletes across the three and half hour clinic, with the session comprising of specific positional skills, one on one mentoring, tactics and match simulations.
Kovacs explained that by splitting the experts by position and working directly with the juniors wanting to emulate those roles, the session took on greater focus.
“We had each coach spend half an hour with their specific group to talk about their experiences, what they think is important for their respective position, the essential skills and how they developed into world class players.”
“The feedback suggested the kids enjoyed themselves and learned a lot,” she said. “We were told the kids were inspired by the people who taught them which is a positive sign.”
The collaborative developmental approach was first launched in December of last year, with the first session also including coaching from water polo great Sharan Colliss.
From 30 odd participants at the inaugural campaign to over 60 club members at February’s clinic, Kovacs said the decision to continue the campaign was a simple one.
“There is hunger for more and hopefully we can target more kids as we go along.”