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Blog: Latest updates as new water polo strategy continues to develop

In the latest of a series of regular updates, the new chairman of the Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group, Toby King, discusses the latest developments within the sport.

In the six weeks since my appointment, we have been working on a number of fronts to move our sport forward.

We have our first meeting at the end of February, although we are still looking for volunteers who can help support the Leadership Group in either communications or coaching – the time commitment is not onerous.

We also look forward to publishing our new draft strategy within a month or so.

Here are a few updates of recent progress across different areas of the sport….

British Water Polo League

Photo credit: Trevor Hyde

The British Water Polo league is our highest level domestic league competition and I am delighted that the league has launched the ‘Champions Cup’, which includes a place in the EU Nations club competition as part of the prize for the winning men’s and women’s teams.

All clubs are supporting the introduction of this competition and it is great to see them and BWPL working together to develop the sport.

The dates are in my diary and I’m really looking forward to seeing the first edition of this event.

This is not a replacement for the British Championships, which also has ambitious plans for the future – watch this space!

Officials development

We know the sport is facing a challenge in relation to the training of technical officials, and we are acutely aware that there have been few opportunities to develop new referees and table officials in recent months.

We appreciate that both are critical to the growth of the game.

We have recently concluded the development of new content for both types of official and Swim England is now recruiting the first set of Volunteer Presenters to deliver the ‘Introduction to Refereeing’ course and the ‘Introduction to Table Officiating’ course.

If you feel you might have a small amount of time to contribute to the development of our sport, please take a look.

U17 and U19 NAGs

The theme of officiating continues as we look forward to the Swim England National Age Group Championships (U17 & U19) 2020 competitions, with the preliminary rounds starting in early March.

The groups for all four competitions are available on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

We know we have a congested calendar and resolving this is an ambition of our Leadership Group.

In the meantime, we need to facilitate the current structure, so I am making a call to action.

If you have a free weekend between 7 March and 19 April, please consider committing time to supporting our younger players and officiating at the NAGs.

Volunteers at these events are well looked after in terms of food and travel costs, as well as Swim England kit.

If you would like to be part of the competition, register your availability by completing this short survey.

And finally….

A key part of our new strategy is likely to involve as many people as possible playing water polo at the level that suits them best.

For some, this will involve playing in low level competitions, which means they don’t need all the many benefits of Swim England Category 2 Membership.

With this in mind, the definition of low level competition has been reviewed, with the aim of allowing more people who play to access the benefits of Swim England membership, but at the lower Category 1 rate.

Our aim is that this will include more players currently on the fringes of our sport, such as some university students and school-age players.

Finally, do you think you have what it takes to be part of our senior women’s team?

If you do, register your interest to be part of the trial at the end of March.

Please do share any thoughts you have on how we can develop the sport we love with your Swim England regional manager or Andy Fuller or Norman Leighton.

You can also contact me at [email protected].

Thank you for reading this!

Toby King – Chairman, Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group