SA U18 Water Polo Set for Youth Championships

Tue, 09/10/2012 - 16:57
  • Franco Conversano Clifton College Water Polo

This year will see the first ever U18 FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships for both men and women. The event will be held in Perth (AUS) from December 1-9. The SA U18 men’s junior team will face stiff international competition from the likes of Croatia and Australia.

FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) is the world governing body of Aquatics and organises World Championships for young men and women’s water polo players every year. In 2011 FINA launched an age group competition with the World Junior Championships for age groups U20 & under and U18 & under. The U20 World Championships will take place every 3 years with the U18 Championships taking place every two years.

European teams are the powerhouses of the sport of Water Polo, investing in professional leagues and youth programmes for players to be a part of the sport from a very young age. SA Aquatics has had its fair share of achievements especially in swimming on the Olympic stages. SA has yet to achieve roll of honours in Water Polo, as all 14 country roll of honours titles have been won by European teams along with 38 Olympic and world honours titles.

The SA’s youth men’s team consists of players who are not short of talent as we saw at this year’s Water Polo tournaments. St. John’s College have been the most consistent squad, winning at KES, 3rd at Clifton, and 5th at SACS. The line-up of players sees a flurry of players from the KZN region, with a majority of five players coming from Clifton College. 

The Draw of the FINA World Youth Men's Water Polo Championships 2012 was held on July 31, 2012 and all 20 countries were split into four groups of five. Teams will play four chukkas, with each chukka lasting eight minutes. There will be 2min intervals at the 1st and 2nd chukka and 5min intervals at the 3rd and 4th chukka.

HSSM’s Sazi Luke had an exclusive interview with Ryan Weideman, current SA U18 Men’s Water Polo Coach who will lead the team to Australia, about the current status of SA School sports Water Polo, his team, and preparation. 

HSSM: The squad seem to be dominated by KZN players, could you tell us a bit about the crop of players you have selected for the 1st FINA Youth Men’s Water Polo championship?
Ryan Weideman: The selection was based on the fact that at Currie Cup, KZN entered the junior boys in the men’s section, they just had more numbers for us to select from.

"I think the Croatian U18 boys are going to be our hardest game"

HSSM:  Did you take into consideration the gelling of the team when you were selecting, as we noticed there was a fair share of players coming from the same province and school, case in point, Clifton College with 5 players. What's the reason behind that?
Ryan Weideman:  It actually just worked out like that, when it came down to selection day it wasn’t that we were looking at what school you came from, but whether they fulfilled the criteria for positions. It just happened to work out that they were from Clifton School, and they suited the game plan we wanted to play.

HSSM: Looking at the table SA is in, there is quite a bit of tough competition, the Croatian team (senior men’s team ranked no.1), and the Aussies (senior men’s team ranked no.7). How do you think the guys will fare in the group stages?
Ryan Weideman: Obviously we want to target Colombia which is our first game and if we can get a win under our belt that it moves us to the 8-12 regions, and if we can get into that region hopefully we can start turning a few heads and play a little bit of a controlled game, not give away too many unnecessary goals, and hopefully try to improve our ranking in terms of international polo.

"I would like to see a good structure that involves a long term program instead of just choosing our teams a year before the tournament."

HSSM: Which team do you think would be our toughest competition at group stage level?
Ryan Weideman: Croatia by a long run. I think the Croatian U18 boys are going to be our hardest game by a massive gap. I think they are most probably going to win our pool. They have the whole dynamics required to play at that level.

HSSM: How does South Africa fare against its European counter parts, are we in the same level, are we getting there, or are we just miles apart?
Ryan Weideman: I think we are definitely behind the bigger nations that professionalize their water polo. When it comes to the countries that are in Europe where it’s still an amateur sport, we are very competitive with them.  But with the professional unions we are always going to struggle against those nations. There is just more money to support the sports and therefore they do a lot better than we do.

HSSM: What would it take for SA’s Water Polo to reach those standards?
Ryan Weideman:  I would like to see a good structure that involves a long term program instead of just choosing our teams a year before the tournament. By 'start looking at programs' I mean we essentially have an 8 year program, once we start dong that we will start closing off the gap between everyone. Also money, essentially to keep our athletes training full time that would be the best case scenario, because in that situation they can train full time and essentially we will now be professional athletes, which we are now not and that’s where we are struggling at the moment. So yeah a good structure with a long term plan and possibly to support our athletes.

HSSM: Are there any actions implemented to achieve these goals at the present moment and to have a professional league?
Ryan Weideman: Yes, Cape Town has been voted in, and we are waiting for them to come back to coaches. The coaches have sat down 2 months ago, we have got a plan that we want to subject to them and put into action and then hopefully the two bodies can work together and the TT and start moving water polo in the right direction.

HSSM: Thank you so much for your time Ryan, good luck and looking forward to covering the 1st FINA Youth Men’s Water Polo Championship.

2012 SA U18 Water Polo Squad

Player School Province
Franco Conversano Clifton College KZN
Nicholas Downes Clifton College KZN
Kyle Gibson Pretoria Boys High GP
Campbell Gregory St. Andrews College EP
Murray Howard Clifton College KZN
Dayne Jagga Clifton College KZN
Yasein Meth Durban High School KZN
Chad Roman Westerford High School WP
Joshua Stubb Reddam House WP
Julian Lewis Kearsney College KZN
Michael Watt-Pringle King Edward VII School GP
Kyle Westman Glenwood Boys High KZN
Michael Young Crawford Lonehill GP
Non Travelling Reserves    
Wyatt Edwards Clifton College KZN
Dan Trninic St. Johns College GP
Tyler Rattray Maritzburg College KZN
Lihleli Tini St. Andrews College EP
Ryan van der Waal Kearsney College KZN

Coach: Ryan Weideman
Manager: Rowen Meth

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Submitted by Nick (not verified) on

Good Morning Lungelo, I see you have a wrong name for one of the players in SA under 18 side.
You got him down as Matthew Watt-Pringle. It is actually Michael Watt-Pringle. please can you correct it.
Nick Watt-Pringle

Submitted by Bronwyn (not verified) on

I would also like to confirm that Kyle Westhan is also incorrect and it should be Kyle Westman.

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