The Zimbabwe U18 water polo team selected over the weekend was announced yesterday as the Zwart Tournament came to a close at the St John’s College pool. Chris Shepherd, chairman of Board of Control Zimbabwe Water Polo, announced the team. The team which comprises of school boys from Harare and Bulawayo, will train at venues in the two cities until the last weekend before they travel, when they will meet to practise in one venue. Selected players should have been born in or after 1996.
The boys’ team will travel to South Africa to participate in the qualifiers which will be held from March 13-16 at St Johns College, Johannesburg. There, they will play a total of six matches – three test matches against the South Africa U18 side and three test matches against Egypt U18. The best two teams will qualify and progress to the World Youth Championships to be held in August in Istanbul, Turkey.
Shepherd said participation by the boys’ team at the tournament was, building towards Zimbabwe being serious water polo contenders in Africa. The championships are a bi-annual event and it is important to qualify in SA. When a team participates in the qualifiers they are open to opportunities of getting wild card selections as what happened to the Zimbabwe girls’ squad two years ago. Spain pulled out of the championships and Zimbabwe was offered the wild card entry.
The coach, Brendon Werrett was happy with the team selection. Werrett said he expects competition to be hard in SA but Zimbabwe has the talent to compete and they would give off their best. Greg Mitchelson, will coach the Bulawayo-based players as Werret’s assistant.
Mary Kloppers, Zimbabwe Aquatics Union president, is the team manager and will travel with the U18 team to SA. Kloppers highlighted that this will be the first time that Zimbabwe will be sending a boys and girls team to SA for the tournament. She said this participation by both teams is good development for Zimbabwean water polo.