By Tasmyn Haynes
While school holidays are usually a time of relaxation, 58 students were determined to make the time count, hustling in the pool at the Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) Water Polo Talent Identification Camp.
They were given the chance to be coached by Australian Water Polo royalty, Michaela Davies, off the back of her 2022 Coach of the Year award.
In partnership with Water Polo NSW and assistance from Water Polo enterprise Kap 7 Australia, the two day intensive training camp began with benchmarking the athletes abilities.
Shooting accuracy, ball handling, speed, power, and agility were all tested before individuals could showcase stamina.
“There’s not really a database of what Olympians got at 13 and that’s what the sport needs, that wealth of data” said Head Coach at Kap 7, Scott Nicholson. He explained that “with football you can tell that everyone knows how to run, but swimming isn’t a skill that we have naturally.”
He said he was looking for athletes that “can tread water, throw overhand, are defensive minded, and understand game structures.”
The pool was a splash of activity when the program transitioned into game play.
With the students every stroke of the way was Michaela, constantly coaching and teaching concepts of the sport.
“Now there is a larger chance to represent a state team, and they have started choosing an Australian squad from under 16s. They travel the world with those squads.”
As the Australian Women’s Water Polo Goalie started her career in school and described the sport as her “window to the world,” students were starstruck to know that they too could represent Australia and contribute to the glowing international reputation of the Stingers.
The team, known as the Stingers, is one of the top women’s’ water polo groups in the world.
“There wasn’t as many opportunities as there are now and we only had one pathway to the Australian team,” she said.
“Now there is a larger chance to represent a state team, and they have started choosing an Australian squad from under 16s. They travel the world with those squads” she said.
The Talent Identification Camp was littered with seminars and guest speakers.
A comment made by one of the parents at the camp encapsulated the aim of the SCS event. “It’s clever to do this. At the end of the day you’ve got all your future players here and the earlier you can catch them the better,” they told The Catholic Weekly.
Manager of Sport at SCS, Damien Kerr, was delighted to see primary and secondary students from different schools come together to form one sporting community and make a name for themselves.
“You have been selected from the 72 000 kids that are a part of Sydney Catholic Schools and the same way that we challenge in the classroom, we need to challenge outside of it as well” he told the students.