Waterpolo action makes splash in EL
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.