Nick Buller's Baku blog on the eve of the GamesJune 11, 2015
Head coach Nick Buller talks about his team’s chances and expectations for the Baku 2015 European Games in Azerbaijan…
As with qualifying, the tournament in Baku will have its challenges and the level of competition will be even higher.
It’s well known the funding for GB water polo was cut to zero and we’ll be facing countries like Hungary, Netherlands and Greece who all have well-established professional set-ups.
With no financial backing, the conditions in this country are very difficult. To get the squad together we have to rely on the parents, or family, to get the players to training, as they’re the ones who have to pay for the girls to travel to sessions. Another challenge is our girls are currently in the middle of taking their exams.
We’d have liked to have spent more time together in May, but it hasn’t been possible because they’ve had to study. Some will also be sitting their exams out in Baku at the British Embassy. We’ll have to work the training around their studying and it’s something we’ve had to look at.
Their education is the most important thing in these girls’ lives, but water polo comes a very close second. In Baku we will be aiming to finish as high as possible and I think a top 10 finish would be a great achievement.
Teams like Hungary, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Russia and Greece all have well-funded professional set-ups and are training twice a day, all year round. Germany have invested massively for Baku as well, as they also see these Games as a huge prize.
Ultimately, this tournament is part of a journey for this GB team. We will learn from every game and we will be better for the next one, so I have no doubt we will come away from Baku as a much stronger team.
After seeing what the London 2012 women’s team achieved (qualifying for two European Championships, one World Championships and reaching the quarter-finals of London 2012), our attitude is if funding can be found, why can’t these girls go on and achieve the same, if not more?
It’s not going to happen over night, but they’ve shown us they’re more than capable and the talent is there.