2019 has been a rollercoaster year for the South African Water Polo team as head coach, Seri Harris, was appointed and removed soon afterwards from her position. Despite their challenges, the relatively young and inexperienced South African side marched on as they gave a fair account of themselves against strong opposition, featuring in various competitions around the world.
The team competed in their first competition for the year in March 2019 where they took part in the FINA Women’s Water Polo World League Intercontinental Cup over a five-day period in Perth, Australia. They found themselves in Group B alongside Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan.
During the group stages, the team managed to score sixteen goals in three games but finished at the bottom of their pool. In the quarter-final round, they faced United States and suffered a 22-4 loss. Eventually, the South Africans claimed an eighth-place finish after losing 12-7 to Japan.
In May the ladies travelled to Brno, Czech Republic, for the EU Nations Women’s Water Polo Cup, as they looked to redeem themselves on the international scene.
The Team Takes A Top Four Finish at the EU Nations Women’s Water Polo Cup
They were able to beat the hosts 23-8 in their opening match. A 19-6 win against Wales secured the top spot in their pool and saw them move into the top four. On day two they suffered a 11-5 defeat to Switzerland, followed by an 19-8 loss to Thailand. Their final match saw them take on Serbia, where they lost by a narrow score-line of 15-12 and took a fourth-place finish.
Head coach, Seri Harris, was unfortunately relieved of her duties prior to the team’s departure to Gwangju, South Korea, where they would begin their world championship campaign competing at the FINA World Aquatics Championship.
They opened their Group A campaign against Netherlands where they unfortunately lost 33-0. Their second match saw them go down 17-4 to New Zealand, and then 26-1 to the United States, ending the pool stages without a win. They then beat South Korea 26-3 to book their spot in the final match of the championship taking on Japan in the 13/14 place play-off, where they unfortunately lost 21-2 and finished 14th overall.
Despite a rocky year for the women in the sport, 2019 turned out to be a successful one for former SA Women’s Water Polo player, Lee Keet-Stewart, who was an official FINA Referee at the FINA Women’s Junior World Championship in Madeira, Portugal in September.
Photo 1 Caption: The South African Women’s Water Polo team in Gwangju, South Korea for the FINA World Aquatics Championship in July 2019. Photo: Water Polo South Africa/Facebook
With editing by gsport