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Consultant David Meli appointed to help develop 'a great future' for water polo

Swim England has appointed consultant David Meli to help grow and develop ‘a great future’ for water polo over the next 12 months.

David is a former chief executive of England Handball, who has also worked for Sport England, and he is relishing the chance to ‘harness all the exciting elements of this great sport’.

His appointment comes after Ian Mackenzie was named interim chairperson of the Swim England Water Polo Management Group following Ian Elliot’s resignation from the role.

David is a director of All About Sport, a consultancy which carries out governance, participation and performance reviews plus strategic and operational planning across the sports sector.

He said: “I am looking forward to working with the water polo community to put together a comprehensive, sport-wide plan that can seek to harness all of the exciting elements of this great sport. 

“It will be important to manage the expectations of all stakeholders to ensure we deliver a realistic and sustainable plan.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England CEO, said: “We are intent on supporting water polo to develop and grow and we’re delighted to be working closely with David and using his knowledge and expertise to help us achieve that goal.

“It is clear that there needs to be a shared vision and plan for water polo that is achievable and can be delivered within the resources that are available.

“There is a significant amount of work to do but this presents a fantastic opportunity to build a great future for water polo in England.”

Delivering change

George Wood, Swim England Sport Development Director, said: “David has an excellent grasp of the challenges faced by volunteer-led sports and knows the funding landscape well.

“He will focus on engaging with stakeholders to understand the current position and this will form the development of a clear action plan that has input from key parties.

“We recognise that a lot of work was covered in this area by the Tunnicliffe Report and David will be reviewing that and building on those recommendations.

“This project, though, is about delivering change that can benefit water polo and David will be supporting the establishment of the governance structure, the development and implementation of the plan and communication of that activity.”

George added the appointment of David provided an opportunity to evaluate the current situation and take definitive steps to move the sport forward.

He added: “There have been challenges over the past years with the ending of Sport England funding and, recently, the resignation of members of the Water Polo Management Group.

“However, there have also been a number of successes, with water polo reinstated on the GCSE PE curriculum following lobbying by Swim England and the introduction of the START programme.

“We have also invested to ensure the continuation of talent programmes.

“The work David will undertake aims to effectively engage players, officials and key stakeholders at all levels of the sport.

“We hope everyone supports us with this vision to help move the sport forward.”