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Eamonn and Ian's thoughts on the latest strategy for the development of the sport

Eamonn O’Rourke, Chair of the Manchester Strategic Water Polo Group, gives us an insight into the events element of the Swim England Water Polo Management Group’s strategy for the development of our sport.

A strong sports event strategy

Manchester has a very strong sports event strategy which has a focus on events that contribute to Manchester’s growing economy and those which demonstrate investment into our communities.

Both the LEN age group event in May and the EU Nations U21’s in November have demonstrated that bringing major water polo events to Manchester further develops the strong relationships we have with British Swimming and Swim England as governing bodies with responsibility for these events.

More importantly, hosting these events develops the capacity within the water polo community to bring future significant events to the city.

The legacy of this long term approach to events, rather than hosting single events, is the developing relationship of all stakeholders over a period of time which inevitably brings further resources for the sport.

In our case, the establishment of the Manchester Strategic Water Polo Group has already brought significant benefits to the city. The national age group teams are now based in Manchester, adding to the numerous other sport governing bodies who have made the same decision to base themselves in the city.

Developing a real legacy

As important as events are, it is also critical that we develop a real legacy from hosting these European events. The development of our workforce has been a particular success with England referees and officials being able to improve their skills, establish themselves on the international scene and improve the standards within the UK.

England's U21 women win the EU Nations U21 tournament in Manchester

The City of Manchester Water Polo Club invested a huge amount of effort with junior and senior players taking roles within the event organisation; and the club took a lead role in the Local Organising Committee alongside Swim England, the Swim England Water Polo Management Group and Manchester City Council, which were responsible for the event delivery.

Not forgetting of course our magnificent volunteers once again proving that Manchester is at the forefront in event volunteering.

There are two other really important benefits to hosting major water polo events in the city. Manchester is making a significant contribution to establishing a long term event strategy for the sport with these events only the start.

The investment of bringing events to Manchester allows for a real plan to invest into the entry level development of the sport with local schools attending over the weekend.

Secondly, players from clubs across Greater Manchester and the North West were able to attend and watch world class water polo competition in their city.

All of this is really just the beginning of redeveloping a sport which Manchester and the North West of England has been proud to invest in and develop over the past 30-40 years.

There is a real history in the sport in this area and bringing major water polo events to the city helps to get real momentum within the water polo community to continue to invest in and further develop the sport.

Ian Elliott with volunteers in Manchester

Ian Elliot, Chair of the Swim England Water Polo Management Group also reflects on the hugely successful EU nations event.

Great feedback from the EU Nations Delegate

We had great feedback from the EU Nations Delegate who could not praise more highly the event we recently held in Manchester.

I was particularly pleased to be able to formally write to thank the City Council for their significant input on behalf of Swim England and the Water Polo Management Group.

As you are aware, water polo is a great sport with a committed and passionate community, which over the last two events held in Manchester has been able to significantly ‘punch above its weight’ due to the army of volunteers dedicated to the sport’s development.

In particular I would like to point out that Manchester’s volunteers never cease to impress me with the dedication and support that they bring to these events.

The  Swim England WPMG are now working on procuring a LEN age group event in May next year in Manchester and given the success of our men’s U17 qualifying tournament this May, we are hopeful that working with British Swimming and the Manchester Strategic Group will allow us to secure another successful tournament.

This forms part of an events strategy and calendar (linked below) that dovetails into the overall strategic development of the sport that my colleagues on the Swim England WPMG are developing going forward.

Over the next few months, we will be publishing a focus on particular areas of the strategic development plan, starting with coach development next month.

Download The Calendar

You can view the events calendar in the Team Meeting Presentation (PPT) from the National Team meeting at the EU Nations Cup in November.

Image credit: ENGWaterPolo Twitter