Theo Nousios' World Junior Championships blog07/08/2015
Great Britain U20s women’s water polo coach Theo Nousios talks about the GB team and the forthcoming FINA World Junior Championships, which start in Volos, Greece, on Monday 17 August…
The coaching staff and players are currently based in Manchester as we prepare for this month’s World Junior Championships in Volos, Greece (17 – 23 Aug).
It’s great we are able to train there as the facilities at East Manchester Leisure Centre are new and made specifically for water polo.
The training sessions are going really well and the team have all been working very hard, and slowly, but effectively, we are understanding and adapting to the new rules which are being tested by FINA in Volos.
We have just over a week until the tournament starts and by the end of our preparations, we will be ready.
The squad has a great mix of talent and we have strength throughout the team. We have some stronger players who can score from tight situations more effectively and players who can exploit the space better with their speed and ability to turn quickly.
With these type of players we can adapt to any game scenario and find a solution to whatever is put in front of us.
To help the squad adapt to the new rules – only six in the water at one time and a total of 11 in each squad – we also visited Hungary for an intensive training camp.
It was a great opportunity to play international opposition and it was a good test against one of the top teams in the world.
The games we played and the joint training sessions allowed us to examine our defence and attack and we’ll look to work on those areas more in the remaining weeks before the Championships start.
We will also welcome New Zealand to Manchester before we depart. We will play a few games against them and host joint training sessions under the new rules as well, which again will be more great preparation.
With us going to Hungary and then hosting New Zealand, the buildup has been excellent and probably the best any GB junior side has had prior to such a major international tournament.
At this level it’s vitally important to play as many games as possible, and even better when the opponents are of such high standard.
There are a limited number of international games in the calendar, so to face high-ranking sides such as Hungary and New Zealand is fantastic and we’ve all been able to learn and progress as a team every day.
Also, having GB Olympians Fiona McCann [Team Manager] and Chloe Wilcox [Assistant Coach] mentoring the team, in and out of the water, has been a real privilege for the players. It’s great to have them share their experiences and they’ve helped all of the squad improve.
The World Junior Championships were meant to be taking place in Mexico, but we are sure the new hosts, Greece, will put on an amazing event.
They’ve hosted many major tournaments in the past, so I think it will be an amazing competition and a fantastic experience for this GB team.
Our first game is against Greece, which is also my home country, so we’re all especially looking forward to that one.
The locals will create a special atmosphere, especially for their games, and we’re all excited about getting out there and starting the tournament.
Our second game is against Japan and we know they are busy preparing for the 2020 Olympics, which they will be hosting in Tokyo.
We imagine they will have funding in place and will be training hard with the 2020 Games in mind.
The last time we saw GB compete against Japan was just before the 2006 Commonwealth tournament, so we’re expecting them to have a similar style of play – fast and aggressive in the tackle.
The low level national competitions, including the low standard national junior competitions should not allow us to enter any international competition with confidence.
We should be satisfied if we get an 11-14th place. But these girls’ sacrifices, hard work, talent and their families’ unconditional support are forcing us to aim higher and a top eight finish would be an incredible achievement.
As for the future of GB water polo, there is such good talent coming through and it is great to see.
But we must all work hard and systematically together, players, coaches, clubs and various leagues and committees under a common target, to bring Great Britain water polo closer to the top international teams.