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History beckons for Great Britain's women at Doha World Championships

Great Britain’s women’s water polo team return to the global stage for the first time in 11 years on Sunday as their World Aquatics Championships campaign gets underway in Doha.

The British squad of 13 players will become the first Brits to compete at a World Water Polo Championships since 2013 when they take on Italy in their Group D opener.

The group flew into Qatar on Thursday after booking the final spot at the event thanks to their seventh place finish at the European Championships last month.

The entirety of the squad in Doha were part of their historic run in Eindhoven as they look make even more history inside the Aspire Dome.

They’re just the fourth British women’s side to have reached the World Championships with their last appearance coming in Barcelona 11 years ago.

That team – which included current assistant coach Peggy Etiebet – finished 13th in Spain, a position that head coach Nick Buller is aiming to better in Doha this time around.

If they manage to do that it will mean that the team will record their second best finish at a World Championships – with just a ninth place at the inaugural event in 1986 bettering that result.

Great Britain’s team manager Rose Younger played in that side as she and Etiebet bring World Championships experience to the British bench in Qatar.

After facing Italy on Sunday, Great Britain then take on World Championship ever-presents Canada and a South Africa side who have already booked their place at the Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

It’s a tough group but just returning to the world stage is a major step back towards the top of the sport for British water polo.

You can watch the entirety of the Championships on Eurovision Sport and you can find all the details on how to follow the competition here.

“We want to keep competing at this high level”

Following the group stage, Great Britain’s women will play in crossover and classification matches to decide their final placing at the tournament.

They will take place from 10-16 February with the British fixtures and timings depending on where they place in Group D. Topping the group would see them progress straight to the quarter-finals, a second or third place finish would put them into a crossover match to reach the last eight, whilst fourth spot means they’ll battle it out for 13-16 place.

Speaking to European Aquatics after the European Championships, Great Britain’s head coach Nick Buller admitted that competing at the World Championships is the next step to achieving the consistency of competing at the top level.

He said: “My vision for this squad of players has always been to provide opportunities for them to play in international competitions, and for them – individually and collectively – to progress in the sport.

“We knew how much it (qualifying for worlds) meant to all the players in the squad, all the players back home, and the future of the women’s game in Great Britain, and I think that showed in all our celebrations.

“We developed confidence within ourselves and started to have some success so we’d talked a lot about having the belief to overcome setbacks in games like against Israel and Croatia.

“It’s hard to judge how successful our performances have been as you need to be judged over a series of Championships and that’s what we want to achieve next.

“We want to return and keep competing at this high level and have that consistency in the future.”

You can read the full piece from European Aquatics with Buller here and you can find the full timings of the British fixtures below.

Great Britain’s Water Polo schedule at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar (Times in UK time):

Sunday 4 February

1:30pm Great Britain vs Italy

Tuesday 6 February

9:00am Great Britain vs Canada

Thursday 8 February

7:30am Great Britain vs South Africa

Saturday 10 – Friday 16 February

Crossover and classification matches