GB girls land in Azerbaijan for Baku 2015 Games

Great Britain’s under-17 water polo girls touched down in Azerbaijan today ahead of the inaugural Baku 2015 European Games.

Head coach Nick Buller and his squad now have three full days of preparation before their opening Group A clash against reigning champions Greece on Friday.

While in the former Soviet State, the GB players and staff will stay in the purpose-built Athletes Village overlooking the 68,195-seater Olympic Stadium, which will host the athletics events and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

“The facilities here look fantastic and we can’t wait to start training fully tomorrow and working on our tactics,” said Buller. “We’re looking forward to the next two weeks and although we know we’re up against some very tough opposition, we’re ready to give our all in every game.”

The water polo tournament is scheduled for 12-21 June and will take place in one of six temporary venues being used for the Games.

For every match and training session, a dedicated Baku 2015 team bus will transfer the squad to and from the outdoor Water Polo Arena, which has a seating capacity of over 1,280.

Two competition-sized pools have been built for the occasion, each measuring 35m long, 22m wide and 2m deep, and with two games able to take place at the same time, eight state-of-the-art team changing rooms have also been created.

Before and after matches, the players will have access to the Athletes’ Lounge, a relaxation area where they can watch live water polo coverage and make use of sofas, tables and a refreshment station.

As well as Greece, Great Britain have been drawn alongside Netherlands, Hungary, Germany and Israel, while Group B consists of France, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, Russia and Spain.

The top three teams from each group will progress to the knockout medal stages and the remaining sides will play crossover classification games.

“With no funding, we’ve faced a lot of challenges to be here, but this team has great spirit and the girls deserve their place at the top table of international water polo,” added Buller.

“Some of my team are also in the middle of their exams, so we’ve had to schedule training around revision and a few players are even having to sit exams out here at the British Embassy.

“Teams like Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Russia and Greece all have well-funded professional set-ups and they are in a league of their own. Our approach is very much to be the best of the rest, but a finish anywhere in the top 10 would be a great achievement.”

Great Britain’s fixtures in Baku:

(all times shown GMT, subject to change):

  • Friday 12 June, 09:45 – Greece v Great Britain (Live on BT Sport1)
  • Saturday 13 June, 12:45 – Great Britain v Germany
  • Sunday 14 June, 12:45 – Netherlands v Great Britain (Replayed on BT Sport Extra, 18:50)
  • Monday 15 June, 11:00 – Great Britain v Israel
  • Tuesday 16 June, 12:00 – Hungary v Great Britain

GB water polo team:

  • Dani Brazier (Chelmsford)
  • Izzy Dean (captain) (London Otter)
  • Hannah Edwards (Menzieshill Whitehall)
  • Sophie Jackson (Leeds)
  • Fleur Kennedy (City of Coventry)
  • Verity McCoy (vice captain) (Liverpool)
  • Mhairi Nurthen (London Otter)
  • Lara Partridge (Crawley)
  • Hayley Price (Tyldesley)
  • Kathy Rogers (London Otter)
  • Grace Rowland (Liverpool)
  • Lucy Shaw (Liverpool)
  • Beth Ward (Devonport Royal)

Head coach: Nick Buller
Assistant coaches: Sue Webb, Ant McGuinness
Team doctor: Adrian Lim
Physio: Victoria O’Donnell