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Woman up: the monthly blog of the GB women’s water polo team

Don’t miss out on the action. Keep up with the Women’s GB Water Polo team through the monthly blog of centre forward Angela Winstanley-Smith, and driver Rachel Drabble.

The last month has been pretty busy and crazy. At the start of the month we had a week’s training camp in Catania, Italy, playing against possibly the best team in the world - on paper anyway!

The match was tough, and everyone was disappointed. The score didn’t reflect the problems we posed the Greek team.

We had two matches against Orizzonte Catania who have seven Olympic champions in their team along with many other major competition winners.

But we took them by surprise with our physical strength and completed two very competitive (and physical!) matches before changing shores and heading to Messina to play an A1 ranked team, funnily enough called Messina!

We were comfortable winners in that match and were treated to the “…best ice cream in the world” according to our coach Szilvester, However, as he seems to make this comment about any ice cream parlour we visit, I guess the jury is out. It was good though.

After Italy we returned to the UK for a week's worth of hard training. To quote our coach: “Don't be scared to hurt yourselves girls!” So 15 50s max later we weren't really afraid of anything, but then we weren't really feeling anything at all!

Next stop was France. Three official test matches later we were unbeaten. First game was a draw. No excuses, we should have won. But we picked ourselves up nicely and won 12 - 7 on the last day. Great team spirit and a great team performance.

Only two short days of relaxing (but still four hours in the pool a day) and we jetted off again, this time to Holland for our European Qualifiers. But when we got there we found we were in “the group of death”. Greece, ranked fourth in the world, and Olympic title holders Holland are in our group. Both are favourites to qualify.

The first match was against a very structured and technical Greek team. The first half went really well finishing 6-3. But although we had the chances to stay competitive their experience showed. We ended up losing 14-4. The match was tough, and everyone was disappointed. The score didn’t reflect the problems we posed the Greek team.

Second up was our European B rivals the Czech Republic. We ended up winning comfortably 17 – 7. A lot different from the European B score of 9 - 7. This pleased everyone as it showed our improvement over the last 12 months.

The final game was against the current team to beat: Holland. And it was held in Holland! The pressure was on. It started at an emphatic rate with our goalkeeper, Rosie Morris, playing amazingly. The first quarter ended up 2-2 and we went into half time only 5 - 3 down.

And we stayed in the game right until the end. The score was 8 - 5 until the last three minutes. Then we ran out of steam. The more experienced Dutch team overpowered us to win 11 - 5. Again we can leave this match being proud of our performance, but now we must really work on keeping it going for the full match.

We finished 3rd in the group and missed qualification. This was disappointing for us all, but we leave the tournament with clear goals to work on, and the knowledge that we held our own against the team to beat and Greece. Next up is a few days’ rest. Then we leave for a six-nation tournament in Russia!

As you can see the past month has been really busy for us all. And over half the girls have full-time jobs while others have had exams to deal with as well. But no time for rest after Russia. It is back to Manchester and more training, more hard work and probably more rain!

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