By Teresa Wilson
THE TASMANIAN Junior (U16s) Canoe Polo team, including Dominic Grose, 16, of Blackstone Heights, have been commended for their performance and sportsmanship in the recent Australian National Canoe Polo Championships at Penrith, NSW.
Competing for the first time in 20 years, Tasmania was ably represented by U16, U21 and Masters. Competing against New Zealand, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT, the juniors achieved a very commendable fourth place after being beaten by the ACT in a very close and gripping play-off.
Each team consists of five players on the water with one or two reserves. The ball is passed between team members as they try to score a ‘goal’ defended by the opposing team. The game is full-contact although within strict rules. Tackling by ramming or pushing your opponent over is permitted, so good kayak skills are essential. Each ‘half’ is only ten minutes long, but it’s an intense and physically demanding game.
The juniors had a baptism of fire with a ferocious first game against NZ. They used this experience to have good wins against Victoria, Queensland U16 girls and Queensland B.
‘It’s just been an amazing experience,’ said Dominic. ‘The team have come such a long way over the summer and the Championships have been a great learning experience and an opportunity to compete against some really top class players. The winter season in the pool will never be the same again.’
‘So many people have welcomed Tasmania back to the national scene,’ said team manager Jenny Purtell. ‘It’s been friendly on the sidelines, but fierce on the water. We really didn’t know what to expect. Players from other states have been so helpful offering coaching advice and support.’
Players are already back in the winter domestic season, developing and honing their skills, passing on their experience from Penrith.
The property where the teams practiced over summer has been sold and it is uncertain whether they will have access to it next summer.
This hasn’t stopped Dominic, however. ‘I can’t wait to do it all again next year,‘ he says, ‘though I expect the competition to make the team might be tougher.’