By Lonawabo Marele
More than 19 players from Orca Water Polo Club in Kommetjie made the Western Province Water Polo teams for next month’s national schools event.
A new Kommetjie-based water polo club has produced 19 players who will represent the Western Province Water Polo team, in three divisions, at the annual schools’ Inter-Provincial Water Polo Tournament (IPT 202ONE), in Cape Town, next month.
The Schools Water Polo South Africa IPT 202One tournament, will be held at Reddam House Constantia Aquatic Centre, Rondebosch Boys’ High School, Sacs Boys’ Junior School Pool, Bishops Diocesan College, Western Province Preparatory School, Wynberg Boys’ High and Herschel Girls’ School. The tournament is from under-13 to under-19, from December 15 to December 19.
Orca Water Polo Club, named in Inuit (Eskimo indigenious language) after the killer whale, is the brainchild of Louise Muller, a former Fish Hoek High School class of 1988 pupil.
Two years ago, Muller, who herself excelled in the sport, realised, with Generations Schools in Imhoff, located on the main road to Kommetjie, and which has an indoor swimming pool perfect for water polo activities, that in tandem with the local community, the opportunity existed to start a world-class water polo academy.
“The inspiration behind the club is, I’ve played, I’ve been a part of the sport all of my life and I am also a parent in the sport. At the age of 49 I started playing again and inspired more women to play,” she said.
“Our short-term goal is to offer the kids in the valley an opportunity to play the sport and reach provincial level. At the moment we have 55 players with the club and 19 of them made the provincial schools’ team this year,” she said.
“My plan for the future is to really market our club and make it available to players even if they cannot afford it, because they are welcome at the club,” she said.
Muller is in her ninth week of recovery from chemo-radiation. About eight months ago she was diagnosed with head cancer. She thought her world was ending, but through the support of family and having “a never give up attitude”, she believes in concentrating on what is important – inspiring the youth to “just do it”.
“For me, standing here today, I can honestly tell you I have been through hell and back. But I see so much opportunity and so much hope. I really would love to help players who are looking for help and looking for a club to grow. We encourage players to start very young. We are happy to offer bursaries for children who cannot afford it,” said Muller.
The club is coached by former South African representative water polo players, Ryan Weideman, SA squad member, Christine Abrahamse, assisted by WP Schools coach, Michaela Cox.
Coach Abrahamse, who has played for the national team since 2016, said her passion for the sport was welcomed by the young players who are always keen to play.
“I got dragged along to my brother’s sessions when we were younger. I started playing when I was 12. What is quite nice is that all aspects of water polo kind of lead to the other. So while playing for the school’s team, I started playing for the national team when I was 18,” she said.
A BCom degree student at Unisa, Abrahamse said the youngsters she coaches should always have fun but not forget to work hard.
“I got invited to try out for the Olympics team. Unfortunately I had to pull out of trials – I am still recovering from a surgery from an injury I had last year and I am not able to train at that level at the moment,” said Abrahamse.
Provincial boys under-14A team player, Jandro Rojo Roos, said his brothers inspired him to play and his passion grew for the game.
Provincial girls under-14B team player, Chelsea Scott said the sport brings her joy. Some day she hopes to make the national senior team.
Jandro’s mother, Jacqueline Rojo Ross, said water polo is a tough sport, but teamwork creates wonders. They are at the pool from 6am practising on weekends.
“We have been in a situation where three days before the tournament the goalkeeper got sick and could not play. The team pulled together, two of the guys who don’t normally play goalie, played goalie. They won the tournament and won gold.
“Playing at Orca has enabled him (Jandro) to train throughout the winter. It has helped him with the trials for the provincial team. And the teamwork here is just the best,” she said.
Orca Water Polo Club offers the following age groups:
– Noodle Polo – age 4 to7: nurturing skill at an early age.
– Beginners Polo – age 7 to 11: most important group, basics are instilled.
– Junior Polo – age 11to 13: this is where the real skill, rules of the game, history, is instilled.
– Senior Polo – age 13 to18: skill, skill, skill and conditioning.
For more information about joining the club, contact Louise Muller on 082 378 9192 or email, Louisemuller15@gmail.com