Hot favourites for nationals

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IT IS the oldest water polo club in Australia, but it’s the young guns who are securing the UTS Balmain Water Polo Club’s success into the future.

After winning the Sydney metropolitan competition as well as the NSW state championships, the Balmain under-16 girls team are the favourites going into the national championships, being held in Hobart in October.

Club president Damian Smith said Cronulla, Sydney University and Perth will provide fierce competition for the 16-member team.

“They’re a great bunch of girls and they fight hard, so I think they have a good chance,” Smith said.

“Like all good teams, they get on very well and have been together for a long time. They weren’t instantly successful; they’ve grown together.

“They’re a very well-balanced team with a combination of great individual players, but it’s not the same people who continually perform, it’s a great spread.

“They’ve got some very good players but sometimes they get marked hard and others step up.”

The team is coached by former Olympian and Australian captain Nathan Thomas and is the club’s most successful team at the moment.

Thomas has a “holistic” and sometimes “alternative” coaching method, even introducing baseball and mixed martial arts to his training sessions.

“I know that could sound a bit extreme but the MMA was more about teaching the girls how they could move when someone is on top of them rather than bashing people,” Smith said.

About half of the team have been in Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre swimming squads for many years and many have been named in Water Polo NSW state squads.

“LPAC has long been a valued training facility for the UTS BWPC and now more than ever the club recognises the incredible contribution this facility, its staff and programs do to lift the club’s performance now and in to the future,” Smith said. “The vast majority of our members have grown up in the inner west. “UTS BWPC represents a unique combination of community, spirit, fun and sporting excellence.” The club is one of the fastestgrowing water polo clubs in the country, driven by its increasingly strong junior programs.

›› The team has been nominated in News Local’s Local Sports Stars competition. Head to localsportsstars.com.au for details and how to nominate.

Find out more about the club at balmainwaterpolo.com.au.