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Chris Motley hopes GB squad will 'inspire other kids' to get into water polo

Water polo runs in the family for coach and former player Chris Motley, who will be leading the Great Britain U17 team to Croatia for the LEN Women’s European Junior Water Polo Championships.

Ahead of the competition which begins on 21 August, Motley said he hopes that the young team might ‘inspire other kids’ to get involved with the sport.

He explained: “I was involved with an Olympic day in Ponds Forge recently and I went and coached some kids who had never played water polo before – they all had smiles on their faces.

“Some of them might get the chance to watch the U17s in Šibenik and think ‘wow that looks fantastic, that’s what I want to do’.

“All the other kids who are playing water polo around the country can see that end result so it adds more importance to what the girls are going to be doing out in Croatia.

“It’s a lovely feeling that they might well inspire other kids to really get stuck in and think ‘that’s what I want to do’.

“I know there are girls in the squad who, three or four years ago, had other girls who they thought ‘I want to be her, I want to be playing there and scoring all those goals’.

“And now they’re becoming role models themselves to other kids who are coming up.”

‘Reignited my desire to be involved’

His father, Ted Motley, played internationally for 10 years and represented both England and Great Britain on the world stage.

His sister also represented Great Britain in both swimming and water polo, strengthening the families ties to the sport even further.

Chris himself then went on to do the same before retiring from the sport in his early 30s.

He said: “At the age of eight or nine, I started throwing the ball about. I did some swimming but it never really floated my boat.

“I played for Sheffield, Nova Centurion and Lancaster and from there I was lucky enough to play in this country, won some titles and played internationally for 12 years.”

Motley explained how he ‘loved every minute’ of his playing career.

Now, his daughter Anna has continued the family tradition and will be travelling to Croatia to compete at European Juniors at the end of August.

“I stopped playing at age 32,” said Chris. “I felt like I still had things that I wanted to do in the game so I started coaching the women’s team in Sheffield as well as other junior teams.

“The women’s team were the best in the country at the time so I got involved with coaching there.

“Since then, my middle child, Anna, started playing and that reignited my desire to be involved.”

‘There’s a sport for every kid’

As well as being a water polo coach, Motley works as a PE teacher and is passionate about children enjoying sport.

He said: “It’s fabulous to see, at any level, kids enjoying playing sport and having a smile on their face and I think there’s a sport out there for every single kid.”

Speaking specifically about water polo, he said: “When they start going up that player pathway and then they get into the national academy and national squads, there’s a sense of pride there because you’ve helped them along the way.

“Because I’ve been there and been through that, it does give you an immense sense of pride for what you’ve helped them to achieve.

“At the end of the day, they’ve got to go out there and do it. It does make you proud and gives you that warm feeling inside.

“Having got what I did out of water polo, competing all over the world, the memories are fantastic and what I’ve got out of the sport has been brilliant.

“If they really stick by it and they’ve got that fire in their belly and they really want do it and they put the hard work in, the rewards are immense. We need things like sport to have that release, that catharsis.”

‘Resilience’

The team’s training preparations have been disrupted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which meant that they only resumed weekly team training in May of this year.

However, Chris commented how the team’s ‘resilience’ has put them in a good position heading into the competition.

“This [training] has given us a chance to get together and the team spirit has been unbelievable.” he added.

“Their resilience and the fact that they’ve just kept going and going. No one lost sight of what they wanted to do.”

The team will compete against Israel in the first match of the competition on 21 August at 8 am BST.

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