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Waterpolo - 22. June 2009.

Morale is high in Camp GB

Report by David Brenchley

As the British Gas women’s water polo team gear up for the LEN European Nations Trophy next month, morale is high and they are confident of putting on a good performance in front of their home crowd.


Based at the venue for the tournament, the Manchester Aquatics Centre, the team was hard at work as Hungarian coach Szilveszter Fekete put them through their paces.


They are training five days per week with pool work in the mornings, followed by gym work and tactics in the evening so are together almost every day.


Although funding for the sport has dropped, there is now a bigger squad in place and a lot more competition for places.


As demonstrated by two of their right-wingers, Rebecca Kershaw and Alex Rutlidge, the competition is friendly.


Kershaw said: “It always used to be like ‘oh god, they are always in the team’ and the rest of us would just make up the numbers.


“Now we have a programme where there are 20 of us together all the time and it is more competitive and it makes everyone work harder.”


The two youngsters, 18 and 20 respectively, came to prominence in their hometown of Lancaster and now both play for Manchester.


Rutlidge said: “Everyone is still supportive of each other as well.  If I didn’t get pick for the team I would still come and watch, we are very close in and out of the water.


“We see each other three times a day but we still do stuff together at the weekends like going out for meals and to the cinema.  We don’t have a lot of time for other friends,” she added with a smile.


Rutlidge’s father played before her and, although there are few women’s water polo teams around, the girls managed to find a way into the sport.


She said: “We started joining in some of [Lancaster’s men’s team’s] sessions, with the youth team, playing mini-polo and then started playing more and more.


“Then we joined Manchester and went to the junior academy [in Millfield, Newquay] and got more serious.”


Kershaw added: "You see the opportunities that you could have.  At 18 years old we can say that we have played in World Leagues, travelled the world, there are just so many opportunities.”


So, with a positive atmosphere and the confidence of knowing they can go the distance, it should be an exciting home championship for the Great Britain team.


The LEN Women’s European Nations Trophy will take place from 7- 12 July at the Manchester Aquatics Centre. Further information and tickets can be found online at www.manchester2009.com.

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