Sunday, 30 January 2011

Water Polo: Great Britain vs Israel, European Championship Qualifier

Yestereve I was privileged to be the guest of British Swimming at an International Women's Water Polo European Championships qualifying match between Great Britain & Israel.

Being mid-Water Polo Challenge I couldn't resist the offer and when the venue changed from Liverpool to Loughborough a 10 hour round trip was halved to make it even more appealing.

Lauren Sanderson of GB Water Polo kindly offered me the ticket and was the perfect host; meeting me at the busy entrance and even sitting with me during the game - while she multi-tasked and wrote notes for her own report on the match on her laptop, poolside.

I heard that Israel hadn't played Women's International Water Polo since 2004 and when one of the GB girls announced she was confident of a 10 point-clear-win I wondered whether the Israeli team had secretly been mastering this aqua sport from behind closed doors for years - would Team GB be eating those words?

Team's GB & Israel line up for the National Anthems

The tie 'kicked off'' with a storm of activity as both teams raced towards the ball in the centre of the pool which looked to have been held there by a bucket on a wire rope.

Nerves then appeared to take the better of them but in hindsight it just seemed like the home team were trying to suss their opponents out.

Once Team GB opened the scoring the floodgates opened and poor Israel looked to be shocked by the ferocity of the home nations play.

Water Polo is not like Netball in a pool. Water Polo is more like American Football meets Cage Fighting, meets Sprint Swimming - its fast, furious and not for the feint hearted.

In goes Goal No.4!

By the end of the first quarter GB were 6-0 up, and the visitors had yet to score.

Beckie Kershaw opened the scoring in the 2nd quarter, just as she had done in the first!

In flew goals 8, 9 and 10 - Israel looked like a group of friends on holiday that hadn't bargained for the feisty British locals in the pool.

By half time the hosts lead 13-0, but they were in no mood to settle for anything less than utter domination - almost as soon as the whistle had signalled the 3rd quarter GBs aggressive start saw a hand in the face of an Israeli and another goal.

4 more goals in the 3rd quarter yet the flow was slowing down, had Israel finally got to grips with organising their defense?

No! GB flew in 8 goals in the final quarter, including a bouncer for the 25th but unbelievably a lapse in concentration saw Israel regain a minimum of pride with a breakaway goal in the final second of the match!

This European Championship Qualifier ended: Great Britain 26 - Israel 1.

Robyn Nicholls was immense in goal for our girls - organising the defense and spearheading a large amount of the attacks.

At the end, in true British understatement Fiona McCann said, 'It was a relief'.

Bless you and your humble ways Fiona - it was a Demolition!

Members of Team GB get to meet a fat lad with a beard.

Find out more about the GB Water Polo Team here.

The Water Polo Challenge continues...


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