Nick Buller reacts to the Women’s European Championship draw

Great Britain’s senior women’s water polo head coach, Nick Buller, has reacted to yesterday’s 2024 European Water Polo Championships draw.

Great Britain will come up against Slovakia, Germany and Bulgaria in the group stage of the competition that takes place in Netanya, Israel next January.

“I was nervous,” Nick said.  “The draw is all important in water polo and a decent draw can be the difference between a top eight and bottom four finish. However, it was good to be watching the draw in the company of many of the members of the squad over the team’s group chat.

“Our group is tough but I’m sure our opponents will think that they would have preferred not to be drawn with Great Britain.”

The event will mark the nations return to the finals for the first time in 10 years where they will be part of a new look competition.

Next year’s finals have been split into two divisions for the first time where the women’s competition has also been expanded to 16 teams to match the men’s event.

The new format – which has been used in the age group events – means that Great Britain must finish in the top two of their group and then defeat one of the top eight sides from last year’s competition to reach the quarter-finals.

And Buller is looking forward to the challenge which includes being reunited with Germany – who they finished above to top their qualification group.

“We know Germany very well having played them four times this year with two wins apiece.

“They have professional clubs that have a much greater number of training hours so it was with great pride that we beat them in the qualification tournament and we will be working hard in training to repeat that in Israel.

Confidence and optimism

“Slovakia also benefits from impressive infrastructure and will be a difficult opponent. They beat us in the Pia Cup last year but we will be looking to reverse that in Netanya.

“If we finish in the top two of our group then we are likely to play against France or Israel. With France gearing up for Paris 2024 and hosts Israel having made great progression over recent years that means a very challenging cross-over game to make the top eight.”

Buller also took the time to share his thoughts and how the squad are preparing ahead of Championships, saying that he’s really pleased with the players commitment.

“The draw certainly removes a level of uncertainty and we can now look to focus our preparation on key games.

“Preparation is always a balancing act but I’m very pleased with the commitment that the players are making in their daily training environments and we have a good preparation planned which includes two warm-up tournaments.

“We will be going to the championships with confidence and optimism earned through the hard work we’ve put in.”

The European Championships are set to begin on 3 January, with the event concluding on 16 January.

You can find more reaction to the draw on the LEN website.