Water­polo ac­tion makes splash in EL

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - ROSS ROCHE [email protected]­patch.co.za

East Lon­don is ready for na­tional water­polo ac­tion as the Univer­sity Sports SA (USSA) and SA Schools’ na­tion­als are set to be bat­tled out in the city over the next eight days.

The USSA Water­polo Na­tion­als kick things off at the Joan Har­ri­son on Satur­day and see 14 sides from seven univer­si­ties com­pete over three days. Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity Madibaz will be the lo­cal hopes tak­ing part, while the Univer­sity of Cape Town, Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch Maties, Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria Tuks, Univer­sity of the Free State, North West Univer­sity Pukke and Var­sity Col­lege will also take part. It is the first univer­sity tour­na­ment in three years.

“USSA hasn't hap­pened for two years be­cause of the Fees Must Fall strike, so it’s back and hope­fully here to stay,” said event or­gan­iser Brad Rowe.

“Water­polo has sort of been re­vi­talised at the Var­sity be­cause with­out a tour­na­ment it’s dif­fi­cult to keep the sport go­ing and I think it’s go­ing to be fun.” Some ex­cit­ing water­polo is ex­pected but it’s the teams from the West­ern Cape that are be­ing tipped to dom­i­nate.

A num­ber of na­tional play­ers will be in ac­tion, which will make the stan­dard of water­polo very high. “In the men's I would say it’s Maties and UCT who will be the teams to watch, with Var­sity Col­lege be­ing the dark horse and for the ladies prob­a­bly Stel­len­bosch, with the rest fight­ing for sec­ond spot,” ad­mit­ted Rowe.

“We will have a lot of na­tional play­ers here, we will have at least 10 men who will have rep­re­sented the na­tional team and prob­a­bly about the same for the ladies.”

Adding to the tour­na­ment is the im­ple­men­ta­tion of new water­polo rules which are set to come into ef­fect next year.

“We’re in­tro­duc­ing some of the new FINA rules and that will make for much more ex­cit­ing water­polo,” said Rowe.

“There are new in­ter­na­tional rules com­ing out and will be im­ple­mented in Jan­uary and only KZN has been play­ing them so far, so we de­cided this will be a good level to in­tro­duce them here. But over­all we’re hop­ing to see good spirit and good univer­sity sport.”

The ac­tion gets un­der­way from 7am with the last games sched­uled to start at 6.20pm, and the same times ap­ply for Sun­day. Mon­day's fi­nal day will see games played from 9am and the fi­nal match at 12.30pm.

The SA Schools’ ac­tion then starts Thurs­day un­til the fol­low­ing Mon­day and will be played at the Joan Har­ri­son as well as a num­ber of schools around the city.

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