On Sunday 1 December Hillingdon Penguin hosted a friendly junior water polo tournament with invited teams from John Lyon School (Harrow) and Northampton.
Jon Lane of Northampton had contacted us earlier in the term explaining that they have many kids who weren’t getting game time and asking if we would like to play them. Once we managed to book the pool space, we were on!
The tournament was all about player development and this was the first outing for our new trophy, the ‘Penguin Development Cup’, awarded to the best team at this and future development games in Uxbridge.
We fielded two teams:
- the London Youth Games (LYG) team which we are developing to represent Hillingdon borough
- our Under 19s, giving experience to older players who rarely get the chance to compete.
We had suspected that Harrow was developing a strong LYG team but we thought they might struggle for players in their Under 19 squad. In fact, they put out two strong teams, having boosted their U19s with players from Harrow School.
We are so lucky to have generous water space at Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Centre, allowing us to divide the pool into two pitches. For this tournament we used a custom-made pool divider cleverly devised by Anton; he scavenged some discarded lane-rope floats and positioned them on a length of rope at measured intervals to help make refereeing decisions clear and make the divider obvious to players. On this, its first use, it was a great success. Pitch A was designated for LYG games, pitch B for U19 games.
We’d already allowed for the distance Northampton had to travel by scheduling them into later matches. However, their arrival was further delayed when their minibus had to divert because the M1 was closed. So, while the Northampton players enlivened their extended journey by singing carols, we added extra matches for the Harrow and Hillingdon teams although they didn’t count in the final results.
All the games were brilliantly competitive, with Harrow the victors in both categories.
Many thanks to Jon Lane from Northampton and John Nikolovski from John Lyon School for bringing teams, coaching and refereeing. Thanks also to Adam Maidment, Shaun Hill and Michelangelo Tritto for coaching the Hillingdon teams, refereeing and set up. Credit too for Anton for his ingenuity and our parent scorers Adrian, Khairul, Emma and Katrina.
The pool time and trophy were part-funded by a grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation, for which we are very grateful.