Last month saw our annual presentation of the Club’s Rob Derbyshire and Ron Turner awards, hosted by Club Chair Rob Kingsmill at Latymer Sports Centre.
There was a great turn out from all the Club, including the Juniors, Senior Men’s and Women’s teams and lots of parents. Thank you to Chrysi who coordinated the evening and to all the parents who helped provide a lovely spread of food for everyone.
The Ron Turner Memorial Trophy
Ron Turner was an inspirational member of Penguin, he was a member of the hugely successful Penguin sides that won the ASA knock-out competition in 1947, 1951 and 1952. Ron was an exceptional forward player with an unerring shot accuracy, known for his fitness and tough approach.
The Ron Turner Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to an under-21 member of the Club who is considered to have best shown the qualities that Ron would have admired: commitment, effort, loyalty and application to the sport of water polo, and to Penguin.
The Club’s Committee decides the recipient based on nominations received from members and coaches. For the 2022 award there were had three strong nominees: Sam Wood, Madeline Roberts and Catie Du Toit.
The Trophy went to Catie Du Toit. It was a very special moment for me as Club President, alongside Rachel Bull our Senior Women’s Team Captain, to make the presentation to Catie. I trained and played with Catie when she arrived at her first sessions at the London Aquatics Centre, and since then alongside her in the British Water Polo League. I have watched Catie grow to be the special player she is. Congratulations Catie.
It speaks volumes of our junior programme that we had such impressive nominations…
Sam Wood was nominated for his hard work and strength in supporting his team. In every water polo environment, whether local level or National Academy, he is well respected by peers and coaches alike.
Sam is training with the London 06 National Academy squad. In 2022 he competed in the U16 Middlesex team that won the Intercounty Championships, the the 2007 London team in that came third in the Inter Regional Championships, in the London League U18 and U16 teams for Penguin Hillingdon, and he has played in the senior Men’s London League team.
These achievements are only half of what makes Sam such a quality athlete. He has completed the level one water polo referring course now helps run and referee tournaments for LWPL at Hillingdon, showing a long term dedication to the sport. Sam also helps the younger athletes during the development tournaments. Sam is the embodiment for hard work and dedication and we are proud to have him as part of Penguin.
Madeline Roberts is one of the best representatives Penguin could have to represent the Club’s strong junior performance team. Maddie started at the age of nine at Hillingdon through the Sport England-funded water polo development programme. She had played in all the junior competitions, usually as the only girl in a mixed team.
Now at the age of 17 (18 this December) Maddie is captain of the U19 Penguin team. She is part of the winning Women’s team of ladies in BWPL Division 2, and a key part of the team currently in the play-offs aiming to reach the First Division.
Maddie has also played in the U17 GB and England squad, and has several attendances in the National and Regional Academy.
Maddie also shares her experience through coaching and supporting the young girls and is an inspiring role model for our younger players because of her commitment and perseverance. She never gave up playing and working hard when it would not have been easy to compete with the boys. Now, thanks to her willpower, she is inspiring the new generations.
Catherine du Toit, since arriving in the UK, has established herself in the Penguin Women’s senior team and core to their attacking options.
As quoted by an ex-GB coach, “Having coached over 12 years of GB Junior teams, six separate two year age bands, I can safely say that there was more potential in this young player, more raw talent, a physical presence that top world ranking Senior Teams would love to develop, a swim ability that was close to the best I had ever seen from a Junior player, a coachability that was very exciting. In addition, she is a smart cookie, mature for her years and is juggling her waterpolo with her love of music and also studying for her A levels.”
In the last year she worked hard to get a regional trial, this also led to a GB trial which resulted in selection for the GB U19 squad, she competed in the U19 European Championships in Israel where she led the GB attack. Finally, her performances in the BWPL have provided consistent attacking threat and options with a team that is making waves in this most recent season.
If any young woman is the epitome of Ron’s strong values of commitment, effort, loyalty and application to the sport of water polo and Penguin I would without any hesitation say “THIS GIRL CAN” …
The Rob Derbyshire Award
There were two nominations for the Rob Derbyshire award 2022; Rumen Kurtev and Rachel Bull. The winner was Rumen Kurtev and it was my pleasure to see Rob Kingmill present this trophy to someone who has coached me in the past and who has been dedicated to the junior programme and the Women’s team.
Rumen was nominated for his continued commitment, and support of the Club in the junior and senior women’s squads. He has dedicated such energy and passion to the junior development in training and in competition. He also stepped in to coach the Women’s team following the loss of John Lake (Shakey). He has been passionately working with the Women’s team, as a result they have achieved phenomenal success, with promotion from the 3rd Division to the 1st Division in just 2 years. The Committee felt this was an important recognition for the whole Club. Thank you Rumen for your unwavering passion.
Rachel Bull was also nominated for the Rob Derbyshire award. Rachel is the senior women’s team captain. In and out of the water she led the team through the challenging time after the loss of Shakey, remaining positive and navigating the difficult balance of grieving the loss of a great friend and coach to many of us, and yet still looking forward and taking the best bits of him with us. Rachel motivated the team through COVID-19 and supported the new coach Rumen after Shakey had passed.
Rachel was featured in an interview for BWLP in March 2022 bringing great credit to Penguin. Rachel leads by example: frustratingly she missed out on a GB trial due to a broken finger in 2022, but she is a formidable player and never gave up. She works hard and sets high standards of herself and her team, which has underpinned their recent success. Rachel continued to train and even with another two broken fingers in the season, she still led the team to a final weekend showdown on BWPL to gain promotion in Liverpool. With a playing career which is going from strength to strength, Rachel is a worthy nomination for this award.
Penguin Swimming and Waterpolo Club President.