Learning and development the key as Talent Centre athletes head to Barcelona

More than 40 of Swim England’s Water Polo Talent Centre athletes are heading to Barcelona in the New Year for three days of ‘learning and development’ at the Habawaba international tournament.

Barcelona’s Habawaba event is an U14 tournament attended by teams across Europe which has been running annually since 2016.

It takes place from 2-4 January where Swim England will be sending three teams made up of 41 athletes to compete in Catalonia.

Two open and one female squad will fly out on New Year’s Day and head to the Olympic Pool in Lloret de Mar where they play a minimum of six matches throughout the competition.

The teams include players from across each of the five talent centres to provide them with both a valuable experience and a team bonding opportunity.

City of Liverpool’s Alice Byrne – who masterminded the clubs recent victory at the Swim England Female U15 National Age Group Championships – will lead the female side whilst Tim Kendell and Joe Leveridge will be the head coaches for the open teams.

The female group will go under the name of the ‘England Roses’, Kendell’s team will be named ‘English Eagles’ whilst Leveridge will head up the ‘English Lions’.

They’ll be joined in Spain by assistant coaches Katie Ross, Millie Stewart and Adam Page as well as team managers Maria Eagling and Nicci Rayes.

Important experiences

Ahead of travelling with the teams to Spain, Swim England water polo talent and inclusion officer Andy McGinty said: “This competition promises to provide three days of teaching, learning, bonding, development and much more.

“It gives the athletes a chance to improve their skills in the pool but also gives them experiences of being away from home and expanding on their life skills.

“A number of these U14 athletes are new to the Talent Centre programme so although some of them know each other well there will be others that will meet some of their team mates for the first time, giving them the chance make new friends will players from across the country.

“All the players on the programme have been identified as having potential so it’s important that we keep finding and organising these opportunities so that the players are equipped will all the tools they need to thrive at an international level in the future.

“Hopefully the experiences on this trip will give this group the boost they need to set them up for an exciting year in 2024.”