A year has passed since our little club came to be and we should all be so proud of what we have all achieved. At our inaugural AGM in recent months, we pledged to focus on growing our junior ranks, a daunting task in an increasingly crowded market of grass roots community sports.
However colossal the job at hand was, our newly appointed Director of Junior Development, Camille Reed, was up for the challenge. Within a month of the AGM, Camille had rallied our little troops to compete in Brisbane at the State Titles. A blink of an eye later, the chargers were on the plane again for the Australian Youth Water Polo Championships, with Camille as manager and Claire O'Mara taking the reigns as senior coach.
A thousand memories were made over the past fortnight, and to capture them in words is a task best left to one of the proud parents. Ken Smith, a proud parent who saw the group develop in character and skill over the tournament, penned a moving email to the CEO of Water Polo Australia:
I am sure as part of the Australian Youth Water Polo Championship there will be a number of true stories that will surface, many from the larger venues, but I thought it pertinent to pass on this story from one of the smaller venues, involving teams on the lower part of the U16 girls ladder. Being somewhat directly involved, I feel that I should take opportunity to forward the story onto yourselves. Late Wednesday afternoon, I received a call from my daughter’ s team manager asking if she would play an additional game on Thursday. The CGS/Nordec team had a game scheduled for 12:00pm at Sommerville House against Ovens & Murray, but Ovens & Murray had decided to forfeit to catch earlier flights back to Albury. The Cairns team already had a game scheduled for 10:00am at the same pool and were contacted asking if they would like the opportunity for an additional “scratch” match. After a phone around by our team manager Camille, the girls, their coach Claire and Camille unanimously agreed to the game. Our girls played their 10:00am game with the same enthusiasm as their prior 8 games but were unfortunately defeated by North Coast Phoenix. While exhausted by the 6 days of competition, the girls from both teams remained committed to play the game at 12:00pm. After the 11:00am game, there had been a communication breakdown and all of the WPA officials were leaving the pool. They were happy to leave the pool setup for the game on the proviso we packed up on the completion of the game as they were going back to Chandler. We had two teams of girls waiting to play a game and no officials. For some of the Canberra parents, this had been their only opportunity to see their daughters compete. Our ever capable Cairns team manager, Camille Reed, volunteered to referee the game - one ref was better than none! Between the CGS team manager & myself, we would take care of table duty. While the girls were warming up, there was general conversation at the table, as typically occurs. It turned out there were a number of similarities between the teams. Both teams were composite teams compromising members of different clubs including members who had literally only been playing the game for months, with little competition exposure. While under the banner of Cairns Water Polo, the team was actually a Queensland regional team comprising girls from 6 clubs across Queensland, from Cairns to the Gold Coast and west to Toowoomba, the majority who had never met before last Saturday, let alone played together as a team. My daughter was in fact one of the girls interviewed on Tuesday’s video. Like many games in the championship, the action never stopped after the ball dropped and the lead exchanged several times between the 2 teams. Despite being exhausted from the week of competition, the girls continued to play with “gusto”. The coaches, girls on the bench along with the small band of parents & loyal supporters continued the same high level of enthusiastic encouragement present all week. Due to the less formal nature of the game, Camille even took the opportunity to pause the game several time to explain to the girls on both teams why a particular call was being made. Exhausted, both teams exited the pool and in true spirit of sportsperson-ship, shook the hand of every one of their opponents, thanking them for their participation, departing the pool exhausted, but with smiles on their faces. Yes, the Cairns girls had the opportunity to decline the offer of another game. Yes, we could have given up when the officials departed. But with the commitment and dedication of the team coaches & managers combined with the efforts of the girls, the game went ahead in the true spirit of the competition; providing the opportunity to play against teams from across Australia, allowing everyone to learn & grow from the experience. I truly believe the true spirit of the AYWPC was present in this game. - Ken Smith, Proud Parent