With just 60 members, Sedgefield may not be one of the biggest clubs in the country, but they are accustomed to punching above their weight.
Formed in 1997, they list GB internationals Angie Winstanley-Smith, Chloe Wilcox and Scott Carpenter amongst their past players, and in 2014, their U15 boys’ team lifted the National Age Group title in Manchester.
The NAG Water Polo Hub caught up with last year’s U15 coach Richard Cousins who is preparing to take the U17s into battle at this year’s Prelims in Walsall next weekend.
Are the team looking forward to the prelims this weekend?
Yeah, the team is very much looking forward to the prelims. They’ve trained hard and want to show what they are capable of. And for me, it’s another step along the coaching path within water polo.
You’re in a competitive prelim group – will you be preparing different tactics for the different opponents on the day?
All the teams know players from the other teams so we would try and map strengths and weaknesses as best we can. We are under no illusions that other teams will do exactly the same to us. I don’t believe there is anything but a competitive group and I think it’s all about the mindset of the players.
You have seven of last year’s U15 National champions in the squad – are they an exciting group to be working with?
The U15 group is a really good bunch to work with. A great training ethic that has been instilled in them by Sedgefield head coach George Carpenter and they have been together for four years now.
Have the team improved much since winning the U15 title last season?
The U17 team is the focus with some very talented players. These players will be backed up by the U15s with each player having a role to fill. I think it is a step up and the U15s will need to show the determination not to let anyone in the team down.
How did you get in to coaching the team?
I got into coaching because it was too hot and uncomfortable sitting and watching in the gallery! George [Carpenter] asked if I’d help out and that is it really. My sport was rugby with sub-aqua diving. In the last few years I’ve also moved into triathlon with the Darlington Tri Club.
Do Sedgefield hope to have teams competing in girls and boys competitions at both U17 and U19 level in the near future?
The club is a small club with around 60 active playing members of all age groups. I’ll leave the other competitions to George but our boys are working with our sister club Lancaster in the U19 teams.