Great Britain’s senior male water polo team are set to begin their first international campaign in nine years, as they enter the World Aquatics Men’s Water Polo World Cup B Division Continental Qualification event to be held in Otopeni, Romania between 9th and 12th March 2023.
The team haven’t made an appearance together since the qualification rounds for the 2014 European Championships, with the sport undergoing a number of restructures and reforms in that time, both domestically and internationally, with the aim of the national teams returning to international stage.
The team begin their campaign on Thursday 9th March against the Romanian team, who are coincidentally the last team to have played Great Britain on the international stage, before they move on to three more matches in as many days against Ukraine, Malta, and Germany.
The competition will be the first taste of major international competition for 12 of the 13 members of the squad, with goalkeeper Matt Holland being the only member to have played for Great Britain previously (including an appearance for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics).
Whilst the new-look squad will be looking to make inroads during the competition, the four-day event will provide valuable experience ahead of the upcoming qualifiers for the LEN European Championships, which will be a key target for the team.
The trip is part-funded by the UK Sport National Squad Support Fund, which has enabled the group to begin and continue their journey back towards regular competition.
The final selection of 13 players was made from the squad which meets up on a monthly basis. Nick Hume has been brought in as the Head Coach for the team, and will travel with the team for the competition, alongside Assistant Coach Craig Figes.
Speaking in advance of the competiton, Craig Figes, who is also the Swim England Water Polo Programme Lead, was positive but realistic regarding the road ahead.
“The upcoming World Cup Qualifiers are a great opportunity for our young squad to gain credible international experience against decent opposition. Most of the teams in our group are in the top 12 or 16 teams in Europe, which means that we’re underdogs with no expectation.”
“Most of the team have been together before as part of the England team, including on a small training camp in Bilbao in autumn of last year, but the squad is still relatively inexperienced. This year is about re-entering competitions and giving us targets to improve on for the future.”
Great Britain Senior Men selected for World Cup Qualifiers (9th-12th March, Otopeni):
1 . Tom Manley, Manchester
2 . Dan Paddon, Manchester
3 . Aaron Winstanley, Manchester
4 . Kamz Powell, Exeter
5 . Rudi Polster, Cheltenham
6 . Jordan Elliot, Manchester and Coventry
7 . Dan Atkinson, Invicta
8 . Tom Hunt, Cheltenham
9 . John Pratt, Sedgefield
10 . George Davies, Cheltenham and Solihull
11 . Ryan Symington, Sutton and Cheam
12 . Fraser Duguid, Manchester
13 . Matt Holland, Sutton and Cheam