They might be relatively new to water polo, but these junior athletes have taken to the sport like ducks to water.
Cairns Water Polo’s Melanie Lum, Courtney Noble, Grace Grainer, Dan Riddick and Emily Muckalt have been selected to attend the Australian Youth Water Polo Championships, to be held in Brisbane from January 12-24.
Cairns Water Polo director of development Camille Reed said the championships had been a goal for the juniors.
“This is their benchmark,” Reed said.\
Despite being the youngest of the group, 12-year-old Lum is one of the more experienced juniors, having played the sport since Cairns Water Polo was established in November 2017.
Although she is too young to play alongside Noble, Grainer and Muckalt in the 16 & U team, she will line up for the Gold Coast after entering the tournament’s player draft.
Reed said the Gold Coast were lucky to have such a dynamic player join their ranks, describing Lum as a “pocket rocket”.
“She’s what I would classify as a utility driver — a little bit like the point guard in basketball,” Reed said.
“She’s an all-rounder — she has the ability to create plays and kick-outs and has a very quick shot.”
While Riddick was also selected to compete in the tournament’s 14 & U male division, he was unable to attend due to prior commitments.
“It’s unfortunate for Dan but he will get his opportunity,” Reed said.
“He’s very strong in the centre-forward, centre-back type position.”
Since taking on the new director of development role in April, Reed has made it her mission to see water polo flourish in the region.
“I’ve been working on establishing pathways and opportunities for growth within the club,” she said.
“This year, we’ll be looking at an 8-12 years program, called Flipper Ball, as well as opening up opportunities for schools in the region to participate in a local gala day. Our goal is to have water polo established as a Peninsula regional sport in 2021.”