Olympians inspire regional juniors

The chance to be coached by two Olympians was too good an opportunity to miss for William Etherington, 15 (Rockhampton), Molly, 11, and Jackson Ballantine, 15 (Townsville). Having made the trip to Brisbane for the 16&U State Titles, William, Molly and Jackson stayed the extra week for the Academy Water Polo April School Holiday Camp.

The four-day camp organised by the team from Academy Water Polo, including current Australian captains, Rhys Howden and Bronwen Knox, focused on key water polo skills and drills, as well as classroom and land-based activities. Supporting her brother, Jackson, Molly, gushed about the camp. “It’s been really fun and I’ve made some new friends. I had a go in goal but I wasn’t very good. Apparently, I am much better at shooting and it’s a lot more fun throwing women’s 1.5 balls than trying to stop one!”

With the aftermaths of Cyclone Debbie still being felt in Rockhampton, it was 50-50 if William’s team would be able to make the State Titles. But the team made it to Brisbane and William stayed on for the Academy and made sure that he was taking notes and learning as much as he could throughout the Camp. “With Simon, Bronwen and Rhys coaching, they made it really challenging. They are introducing lots of new drills, which is really good and I am hoping the Academy will give me some more experience, as well as learning new tricks and skills that I can learn in the game.  I will definitely take what I’ve learnt back with me to Rockie and share that. I’ve been keeping a record of what we have done and it’s been really fun.”

Playing for the Warriors, Jackson was competing in his fourth competition in South East Queensland. “The Academy is really helpful, it’s been really good and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve learnt heaps of new stuff and met new people that I have seen and played against but haven’t really had a chance to talk too, so that’s been a good experience. I am hoping these Academies will give me some more insight into specific plays, how to compete in the game and just be better practice. It gives me four days to practice with players who are of a higher skill level.”

Like William, Jackson has been taking notes from each day and is looking forward to sharing what he has learnt with his club in Townsville. “We don’t have an enormous club, so it’s always valid when you bring something new to the club.”

Over the four days, the kids had the opportunity to meet, chat and be coached by Bronwen and Rhys. They put the kids through their paces and shared their experiences, knowledge and insights not only from the Olympics but also the various pathways available to youngsters who are looking to represent at State and National levels.  For Molly, chatting to Bronwen was a huge highlight. “It was so much fun chatting to Bron, we were in the classroom and we were talking about what it was like to go to the Olympics, the training involved, how much work you have to do and it sounds like so much hard work!”

For Jackson, being coached and speaking with Rhys was inspirational, “He gave a really balanced view, the positives and negatives of water polo as a semi-professional career. I was just amazed at the amount of training he does, he was saying that he hasn’t missed a training session 18 years. It’s pretty ridiculous but there is a lot of dedication, patience and hard work. It’s a huge inspiration for me to try for Olympics, just seeing how good he is and what he has achieved is pretty awesome.”

There is another opportunity to sign-up for Term 2 Academy, which starts from 24th April and runs until the 25th June. Register via bit.ly/T2AcademyWaterpolo