It was a golden trip to Calgary for Surrey Water Polo Club’s U15 girls.
On March 20 the team won the Alberta Open with a 7-5 victory over Calgary Renegades at Repsol Sport Centre, host venue of one of Canada’s largest water polo tournaments.
The girls “exceeded expectations” in the seven-team U15 girls division of the tournament, according Ethan D’Souza, in his first year as club general manager.
Most of the team’s 12 players are from Surrey, with three athletes from other clubs added for the trip over the Rockies.
The club’s U15 boys team also competed in Calgary, but didn’t medal.
“It’s been pretty hard with COVID, and we lost a lot of kids,” D’Souza noted. “This is the first trip for, I’d say, 90 per cent of the kids – the first out of the province.”
The Alberta Open win gives the U15 girls a boost heading into Western Nationals, played May 12-15 in Calgary.
The March 20 championship games were streamed on Water Polo Canada TV’s channel on YouTube.
The U15 girls team includes Melanie Segulja (captain), Geniivyevii Duong, Addison Bailey, Dea Cenolli, Mia Mori, Ana Oshafi, Airi Cowie, Hayley Hummel, Katie Scarth, Alex Stoddard, Yuka Piersic and Tecna Zeng.
The team trains at Guildford Recreation Centre five nights a week, with a club that recently rebranded. “We now go by Surrey Water Polo, no longer the Orcas,” D’Souza explained.
The club was founded in 1999 with 26 athletes, and today boasts close to 130, he said.
“We’re expanding quite rapidly, and we do everything from learn-to-swim lessons, which lead to introductory water pool, then into our development water polo, then competitive level. It’s a pipeline all the way up,” D’Souza added.
“It used to be a longtime community-based programming club, very grassroots, and we still do that, but in the recent couple of years, we adapted more competitive programming and are competing against clubs that train a lot as well, more high-performance.”
“This year we had an athlete (Maddy Scarth) selected for the youth national team, so we go from grassroots, under five and learning to swim, all the way up to youth national team level,” D’Souza explained.
“Maddy was at the (Alberta Open) tournament as well, in the Under-19s with Edmonton, who placed fourth.
The Surrey club is always looking for more girls to play water polo.
“Seeing girls not just participating but excelling like this with our U15s, it’s great to see, and definitely helps us recruit more girls to our program,” D’Souza said.