Junior Country Clubs – A weekend down at the South Coast









The first of the WPNSW State Championships took place in Shoalhaven over the weekend; with teams across regional NSW competing to take out the Junior Country Clubs Title. It was the first event ever hosted at Nowra Aquatic Park; a great facility capable of hosting State tournaments.

“The first event in a new area is always a challenge but the event ran smoothly and now we have developed a relationship with the pool and council for the region,” Ethan Rogers, WPNSW Events Coordinator, said. 

“It was a beautiful facility in a lovely location and the next time we bring the event here it be exciting to see what other opportunities we can leverage with council and local businesses.”

The Nowra Aquatic Park catered for over 200 participants with over 25 hours of pool time. Teams travelled from as far as: Newcastle, Canberra, Tamworth, Woy Woy, Gosford and the Entrance to contest and prepare for the upcoming State Championships.

 “We showcased the talent that is there as well as with some of the younger players are learning to develop at this carnival before they head to State Championships which is paramount for the regional kids,” Gail Salter, Country Director of WPNSW, said.

“Seeing a lot of them (kids) come from centres that don’t have year-round facilities, it is important teams gets some match practice under their belts before they head to State Championships and get them into carnival mode.”

The special element about the event were the amount of families that competed with and against each other at this tournament. The Mitchell Family from Tamworth saw four kids competing throughout the weekend in three different teams. Barbarians coach and eldest child Jake Mitchell coached his younger sister Billie Mitchell. The 3rd oldest Joe featured as a Southern Highlands draft player with the youngest Ella playing for the Tamworth mixed team.

“We have been very busy. We are here all day, game on, game off with one of us at least playing. This tournament is great to prepare us for the State Championships,” Billie said.

Another family feature saw The Entrance Ducks coach Blake Holmes coaching his younger Brady for the JCC Boys.

“The boys are really enjoying it. We have a mixed team: a couple of U12s, 14s and there are only about 3 top age players because our club is very small,” Blake said.

Exposure to tournaments for regional kids is a core aspect to their Water Polo development, according to Central Newcastle Water Polo Coach, Brett Arnold.

“It is extremely important; we are making up traditions as we go along now, a thing that is going to be carried along to our clubs every time a team comes to one of these tournament;” he said.

“More importantly, these kids get to play tournament Water Polo and a lot of them don’t.”

The Barbarians were more than convincing throughout the JCC Mixed competition; scoring 70 goals and conceding only 3 goals over the course of the weekend; a terrific effort from a squad whom were produced from draft nominations in the regional areas.

In a gripping final, Central Newcastle were looking to finish the tournament undefeated, coming up against Nordek 16s in the JCC Boys Grand Final. Central Newcastle prevailed in round 1 against Nordek with a 6-4 victory but however were unable to keep their cool and lost 7-4 in the rematch. The intense final saw constant end-to-end action at the highest quality which showcased the regional talent that WPNSW has to offer.

The event also provided an opportunity for young athletes and coaches to experience and develop their refereeing and officiating skills.

“It was also for the coaches and referees as well as the table officials so that we have competent people around the State and National Championships,” Gail said.

Overall, a fantastic and a well-organised tournament enjoyed by all participants as WPNSW leads into its State Championships this coming month.

“I think it was really well organised, it is good for a lot of country kids coming from different regions to see and play tournament Water Polo,” Brett Arnold said.

Final Standings – JCC Boys

Gold – Nordek 16s

Silver – Central Newcastle

Bronze – Gungahlin Dragons

4th – The Entrance Ducks

5th – Gosford

6th – Nordek 14s

7th – Southern Highlands Honey Badgers

Final Standings – JCC Mixed

Gold- Barbarians

Silver - Gosford

Bronze – Woy Woy

4th – Tamworth

5th – Southern Highlands Honey Badger

Tournament 7 - JCC Boys

GK – Tristan O’Donnell (The Entrance Ducks)

Matthew Wilson (Nordek)

Lachlan Norgard (Central Newcastle) {MVP}

Tyler Williams (Dragons)

Brady Holmes (The Entrance Ducks)

Luke Stimson (Gosford)

Joe Mitchell (Honey Badgers / Tamworth)

Tournament 7 - JCC Mixed

Billie Mitchell (Barbarians / Tamworth) {MVP}

Bree Akhurst (Barbarians / Central Coast)

Georgie Griffiths (Tamworth)

Alexis Graham (Woy Woy)

Jack Hatcher (Southern Highlands Honey Badgers)

Jake Elliot (Gosford)

Luke Hughes (Gosford)

Written by Vangeli Kollias (WPNSW Communications Coordinator)


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