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Have your say and help shape development plan for water polo

Swim England is to host a series of regional meetings to give people the chance to have their say on a development plan that will help shape the future of water polo.

Consultant David Meli, who was appointed to lead this process, will be travelling across the country to listen to the views of clubs, committee members, players, officials, volunteers and key stakeholders.

The aim is to give the water polo community the chance to express their opinions on how the sport develops ahead of a new realistic and sustainable plan being drawn up in the New Year.

David said he had not been appointed by Swim England to simply carry out another Tunnicliffe Report style review.

He said: “The purpose of the meetings is to meet and engage with those on the frontline and find out what they feel should be the key part of any plan for the development of water polo.

“The meetings are open to those who want to help shape the future of the sport and are aimed at current players, officials, volunteers, coaches and committee members.

“We’ll focus on the whole sport from community to elite level. What do people want to see? Is it about increased access to education and development opportunities for coaches and officials, strengthening the quality of club water polo, putting robust metrics in place for selection to the talent pathway or redefining the domestic and international competition programme?

“I appreciate a number of people are going to say ‘it’s just another report’. But it’s not. I have not been appointed to undertake another review or write a report.

“Many of the findings of the Tunnicliffe Report are true today and a number of elements from that are included in the current programme.

“My aim is about getting a realistic, manageable and sustainable plan that can be delivered within the resources available.

“This is a plan for England. We recognise that international competition is important and we will take on board the views of the community regarding the international programme.

“These will be shared with British Swimming, who are responsible for this programme.”

David said he had seen a number of positives during his time working with Swim England.

He added: “When I worked as a sports development officer almost 30 years ago, my goal was to make myself redundant as you would look to create something, make it stand on its own two feet and then ensure the right people are in place to take it forward.

“That’s what I’m trying to do here.

Transparent recruitment process

“Swim England has continued to put resources into water polo in terms of investment – £80,000 per year for the talent programme as well as funding for staff and development activities.

“There are dedicated members of staff for water polo and I have seen a willingness from Swim England to want to address some of the issues that have come up.

“Swim England does not want water polo to fail – the intention is to grow the sport at all levels.

“There is good work being done across the country and Swim England and wider stakeholders want to see the sport succeed.

“The positive for me is that everyone wants to see progress.”

David said he hoped a new chairperson of the Water Polo Leadership Group would be appointed before Christmas with the aim of recruiting additional members at the beginning of 2020.

“The first thing to do is engagement at the meetings in December,” he said. “Once we’ve appointed the chairperson for the leadership group we’ll look to recruit members to the group early in the New Year.

“It will be a transparent recruitment process and we’ll want the new chairperson to engage with the recruitment of the rest of the group.

“We’ll have that done and dusted early into the New Year and then pull together the plan in the first quarter of 2020. That can form part of the broader Sport England funding process.

“One of the main things to consider is how we deliver a plan within the budget.

“I want people to put thoughts about funding to one side and think what do we really need to help take the sport forward in terms of governance and leadership and in terms of the areas that we are going to focus on.

“Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee of funding. Simply asking for investment is the easy thing to do but I’m interested to understand what people feel are the things to which they would like to see future resources allocated.

“We appreciate the investment parents and athletes make into the sport and it is important we can ensure we get maximum return on all resources.

“We need a plan that has a focus on what is going to make a real difference.

“But it is only going to work if everyone gets behind it and agrees a reasonable, realistic and manageable plan – and that’s something I hope we can achieve collectively.”

Sign up for the regional meetings here.

Water polo regional meetings

Please note, some of the times have been altered following the initial dates being sent out in response to requests from the water polo community.

  • Tuesday 3 December – 6.30pm-8.30pm: Adlington Meeting Room, Floor 1, SportPark, Oakwood Drive, Loughborough, LE11 3QF
  • Wednesday 4 December – 7.30pm-9.30 pm: Holiday Inn Express, Leigh Sports Village, Sale Way, Leigh WN7 4JY
  • Thursday 5 December – 6.30pm-8.30pm: House of Sport, 190 Great Dover St, London SE1 4YB
  • Tuesday 10 December – 7.30pm – 9.30pm: Swim England South West, Castle Business Centre, Castle Road, Chelston Business Park, Wellington, Somerset, TA21 9JQ Somerset, TA21 9JQ
  • Wednesday 11 December – 7.30pm – 9.30pm: Holiday Inn (Guilford), Egerton Rd, Guildford GU2 7XZ
  • Thursday 12 December – 6.30pm-8.30pm: Grange Park Sports club, Wetherby Grange Park, Old Boston Road, Wetherby,  LS22 5NB
  • Saturday 14 December – 2pm-4pm: Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre, Victoria Rd, Chelmsford CM1 1FG
  • Tuesday 17 December – 6.30pm-8.30pm: Handsworth Grammar School Old Boys Club House, Bridge Trust Society, 47a Romilly Avenue, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, B20 2AT