Habawaba tournament an ‘excellent’ experience for Talent Centre athletes

Some of Swim England’s U14 Water Polo Talent Centre athletes enjoyed an exciting start to the New Year at the Habawaba Spain International Tournament.

The event took place at the Olympic pool of Lloret de Mar just down the coast from Barcelona from 2-4 January.

41 athletes and nine members of staff, coaches and team managers headed to the event which was a first trip to play overseas for many of the young players.

Each of the teams got to play six matches across the tournament against teams from Spain, France, Portugal and Andorra.

Swim England athletes made up three teams – England Roses, England Lions and England Eagles – with two open and one female squad joining the 18 team competition.

Three groups of six were set up with one of our teams in each of the three.

England Lions placed highest of our three teams, defeating England Eagles in the 11/12th place playoff match after both sides finished fourth in their groups.

The Lions defeated both CN Cabella B (10-0), Sporting CP (11-6) and CN Sant Feliu Men (8-5) in their opening three matches to finish on nine points from five matches in Group A.

A hat-trick from Thomas Forrest sent them on their way to the win against CN Cabella but it was Andrew Stephenson’s five goal salvo against CN Sant Feliu Men that was the standout performance in their group phase.

Unfortunately three wins from five was only enough for fourth place in a tight group where they lost out to CDW Malaga B on a head-to-head record and finished four points off the top.

An all-England showdown

That meant they took on their compatriots in the English Eagles who were fourth in Group B.

They recorded two wins from five in the group with a narrow 6-5 victory against CN Cabella A and a dominant 11-1 victory against French side, Team Edelweiss.

A last second strike from Toby C-Y gave the Eagles an excellent win against CN Cabella A in what was his fourth of the match.

Then Ricardo Livio Pianta, Matthew Collier and Milo Jones all grabbed a brace in the impressive victory to see of Edelweiss.

Our two open teams – Lions and Eagles- then faced each other in the playoff matches on the final day for 11th place.

It was the Lions who came out on top, winning 10-7 where a hat trick from Jones and C-Y came in vain for the Eagles.

Stephenson once again led the scoring for the Lions, netting six against his compatriots alongside goals from Forrest, Jude Eagling and a double from Adrian Babic.

England Roses finished bottom of Group C but showed some impressive fighting spirit against a number of tough opponents.

They then won their second phase match against Edelweiss before finishing in 16th place after a 7-3 loss to CN Cabella B.

Alice Ross and a brace from Manpreet Gill kept the Roses right in the match-up until the closing stages against CN Cabella B.

Against Edelweiss, Gill and Imogen Blassberg both netted twice whilst Issy Rayes grabbed a hat trick in an 11-3 win.

Learning skills and creating memories

Following the event, Swim England water polo talent and inclusion officer Andy McGinty said: “It was great to see so many enthusiastic young players out in Spain who are all keen to learn more about the sport and develop their skills.

“Trips like these are excellent learning experiences which we want to provide for our athletes during the Talent Centre programme.

“It’s gives the opportunity for the players not just to improve by taking on some top quality opposition but also the chance to build friendships and bonds with their team mates which they can take with them throughout their journey in the sport.

“We can’t wait watch these athletes progress and look forward to welcoming them to what for some will be their first Talent Games event in the spring.

“Thank you to everyone at Habawaba Spain for hosting us and to all the coaches and staff who gave up their time to support train these talented young water polo players.”

You can see the full squads from each team below and the full results from the tournament are available here.

Swim England athletes and staff at the Habawaba International Tournament in Lloret De Mar, Barcelona (2-4 January)

England Eagles squad

  • Tom Broadwidth
  • Matthew Collier
  • Toby C-Y
  • Tolly Danielson
  • Ruan Delport
  • Aryan Govender
  • Theo Handley
  • Milo Jones
  • Denis Kulie
  • William Mock
  • Ricardo Livio Pianta
  • James Pitt
  • George Roche
  • Tim Kendall, head coach
  • Millie Stewart, assistant coach and team manager
  • Alex Kent Jones, team manager

England Lions squad

  • Alex Armarda
  • Adrian Babic
  • William Colvin
  • Jude Eagling
  • James Elliot
  • Jansen Gregoire-Parker
  • Samuel Hewitt
  • Thomas Forrest
  • Ernesto Garcia
  • Oliver Hartshorn
  • Joel Perkins
  • Andrew Stephenson
  • Ray Swainson
  • Joe Leveridge, head coach
  • Adam Page, assistant coach
  • Maria Eagling, team manager

England Roses squad

  • Linda Aleksejeva
  • Imogen Blassberg
  • Maija Cara
  • Poppy Clarke
  • Molly Dean
  • Manpreet Gill
  • Ellen Henry
  • Tarryn Lewis
  • Francesca Lucas
  • Maia Middleton
  • Issy Rayes
  • Alice Ross
  • Kaila Saltman
  • Isobella Taylor
  • Lily Watson
  • Alice Byrne, head coach
  • Katie Ross, assistant coach
  • Nicci Rayas, team manager