Recently, six of Meriden’s finest water polo players embraced a welcome escape from the winter chill by embarking on training tours in the northern hemisphere. The international tours were designed to provide players with invaluable experience training and competing on the international stage ahead of the highly anticipated 2024 World Championships. Alyssa Chan, Abigail Oates, Christina DiGiandomenico and Keira Rippon visited Europe, while Kate Duffy and Sophie Pethers toured America.
Year 10 students, Alyssa and Abigail, toured with the Australian Under 15 Team, taking on the Netherlands and Hungary in a series of exhilarating matches. Abigail shared her excitement about the journey, stating, “Our trip began in the Netherlands, in a town called Leiden, just outside of Amsterdam. We stayed there for a week and had the opportunity to compete against the National Dutch team and local club teams. Our team achieved fantastic results and emerged undefeated.”
The journey continued to Hungary, where the team trained and played in Kecskemet, a town located outside Budapest.
Throughout their tour, the players were inspired by influential figures in the water polo world. They had the honour of hearing from Dutch Head Water Polo Coach and former Olympian, Ms Lefke van Belkum, who shared her water polo journey and the motivations driving her success.
In Hungary, the girls dined with the Captain of the Hungarian National Team, Ms Rita Keszthelyi. Ms Keszthelyi encouraged the young players to work diligently, study their opponents and emphasised the power of self-belief in achieving goals.
Alyssa said the most memorable part of the opportunity was connecting and competing against other young players from around the world who share her passion for water polo.
“The highlight was meeting girls from other countries as well as amazing players who have represented their counties at the Olympics and other international competitions. They each shared their experiences with us and gave valuable advice,” said Alyssa.
“Experiencing a different intensity and style of water polo also helped to enhance my skills. We were able to train, play and tour both The Netherlands and Hungary, with each country providing new experiences and challenges.”
Abigail expressed her appreciation for the guidance she received from experienced coaches that proved instrumental in honing her skills and technique.
“We had the privilege of being mentored by highly experienced coaches who provided invaluable feedback and guidance. Competing against girls from diverse backgrounds and skill levels was an exciting but challenging experience and adapting to different playing styles pushed me to improve,” said Abigail.
Meriden’s Head Water Polo Coach and former Olympian, Ms Chloe Wilcox, attended the European tour as an Assistant Coach.
“It has been an incredible experience for the girls to see the difference in styles of play in Europe and understand how a country’s culture can influence this,” she said.
“The energy and excitement to be overseas was lovely to see. Most importantly, they were able to learn and grow as a team both in and out of the pool.”
The School congratulates these hardworking athletes on their successful tour and wishes them the very best as they prepare for the World Championships in 2024.