Joanna Wray comments: Overcoming the German battle
9 Jul 2010
Our national football team may not be able to beat Germany but the British Women’s Water Polo Team, powered by British Gas, finished a successful run of competitions with a win against them.
There was just one goal in the victory with the Brits taking it 8-7, but it’s the first victory against the German’s since I have been working with them over the last two years. Our progression against the Germans has been improving with nearly every game, as the graph below shows. We’ve edged closer and closer with less goal difference going from 7-15, to 12-17, to 12-13 before we were finally victorious in our match in the World League in Italy just last month beating them 8-7.
Germany is a top team competing regularly against the world’s best. They qualified into the last Europeans Championships in 2008 and finished seventh and came 10th in the World Championships in 2010.
They are just one of the teams that we are starting to get closer to. The senior women’s squad progress over the last two years has been impressive, last year was the first time we had been invited into the World League; we came last in our group with Germany, Greece and Russia but what experience it was!
This year, we were back in the world league and we stepped up and we played tough! Every match we played was a well fought match, regardless of some of the scores against Hungary and Russia we were with them; the only difference just that shooting percentage. Beating Italy in the first stage of the World League in Hungary and then beating Germany in the second stage firmly marks our status at this level.
The Italy match was electrifying, one goal to Britain, one goal to Italy. We’ve not played Italy in an official match in the last two years but they are a top team. Looking at the results over the last two years in the major competitions, they were fourth in the European Champs 2008, sixth in the Beijing Olympics 2008, and ninth in the World Champs 2009. Their team was focused on peaking at Beijing and the World Champs because the later was a home competition, they do not have the younger players coming into their squad to bolster those there.
Our squad is different, our team is made up of a lot of the athletes from the U20 Europeans last year, this means our team is young and progressive and is a great age to peak in 2012 along with the much needed experience of the older players.
The international season for our senior girls is over for now. They’ve had a busy, busy year to date since January with trips to Hungary in February, Greece and Italy in March, France and the European A Qualifiers in April, Russia in May, and the two group stages of World League in June.
The girls get a well deserved rest now before another busy period starts. And there is a lot in store for the girls; firstly we have successfully got our senior team to play in the Hungarian first division national league. This means that every fortnight a team will travel to Hungary to play two or three matches per trip giving the girls great experience over the winter months, normally our quieter time.
We also look like we are off to India for the Commonwealth Tournament. Water Polo is not an official commonwealth sport, but has historically run a friendly competition linking to the official Games. It is to be staged in Goa at the end of October and gives us the chance to compete against some other strong World contenders that we don’t play too often. It’s a great chance to see where we stand on the world stage in the crucial mid-term point of our Olympic cycle. We will play Canada, New Zealand, Australia and a few others in the tournament.
On top of these new additions to our calendar the new European format also starts its 18 month process through to the European Championships in 2012. First qualification round is a group stage where each team plays six home and away matches across an eight month period. Second stage is the preliminary stage which is just one home and away match against a team to take you through to the final championships in January 2012.
What an exciting time for women’s water polo in Great Britain. They have an incredibly busy but exciting next few years to get to the Olympic games but with the progress they are making, the confidence we are building through excellent results and the commitment the girls are showing, I have no doubt our success will continue.
Great job girls and bring on next season.
Joanna Wray, World Class Programmes Manager