The women’s Institute Challenge begins on Sunday November 27 as leading players from across Australia converge on the AIS in Canberra to determine the best water polo state in the country.
Teams from the State Institutes and Academies from New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria will contest the tournament with spots in the Aussie Stingers team for vital Olympic lead up tournaments on the line.
Aussie Stinger’s head coach Greg McFadden said the concept is very beneficial at this time of the year heading towards the London 2012 preparation and he expects a lot of players to step up and impress.
“This is the only time the girls get to compete for their state so obviously there is a lot riding on it and there is a lot of bragging rights. The girls all show plenty of pride towards their state and want to do well,” McFadden said.
“There are only four teams in it, but they are all fairly tough teams and each team plays everyone twice, so the matches are very tough and it really shows who are the consistent players.
“Having to play six or seven games in five days is a big effort and the class usually shows up in those situations.”
Traditionally New South Wales and Queensland have been the front-runners in the competition’s six-year history with the two states sharing the spoils at three wins each.
However, with the increased quality of the National Water Polo League and the continuous development of Western Australia and Victoria, McFadden expects this year’s Institute Challenge to be the closest yet.
“New South Wales and Queensland are probably going to be the two dominant teams, but this year it is probably going to be a lot closer as WA and Victoria have certainly improved,” he said.
“Western Australia has four girls from the Stingers’ senior squad including Isobel Bishop who has come over from South Australia and they could easily upset the two other states.”
With just three weeks remaining until the Aussie Stingers travel to Montreal for the Canada Cup, the five-day tournament is a final chance for fringe players to impress national selectors.
Although McFadden indicated he will take a squad of around 14 to Canada, he did not rule out the possibility of including any player who performs brilliantly in Canberra.
“We are using it (the Institute Challenge) as a bit of a selection trial for the Canada Cup,” he said.
“We’ve virtually picked the team, but it all depends on player’s performances and their fitness as to whether they get selected to go away and who knows what can happen during the week.”
New South Wales and Victoria open the Institute Challenge in game one on Sunday afternoon, with the gold and bronze medal matches to be played on Friday morning.
New South Wales: Stephanie Calaizis, Holly Lincoln-Smith, Gaby Wikman, Rebecca Rippon, Chloe Barr, Hannah Buckling, Jo Whitehorn, Emily Scott, Georgia Clarke, Emily Carr, Alicia Brightwell, Nicola Zagame, Alicia McCormack. Coach: Ryan Moar
Queensland: Kelsey Wakefield, Bronte Colenso, Sophie Smith, Madeleine Coburn, Jane Moran, Bronwen Knox, Jamie-Lee Lewis, Kate Gynther, Jessica Martin (SASI), Ashleigh Southern, Emily Benson, Olivia King, Mel Rippon, Sarah Mills. Coach: Aleks Osadchuk
Western Australia: Lea Barta, Gemma Beadswoth, Isobel Bishop (SASI) Mercedes Ralph, Cathryn Earl, Eliesha Browne, Glencora Ralph, Zoe Arancini, Jessica Zimmerman, Heather Scott, Millie Martino, Lillian Hedges. Coach: Peter Szilagyi
Victoria: Jade Hanson, Kathleen McHugh (SASI), Alli Van Ommen, Genevieve Venosta, Rowena Webster, Madison Morison, Madeleine Steere, Elise Rossato, Amber Graham, Belinda Symons (SASI), Katie Blunt, Victoria Risby (SASI). Coach: Dalibor Maslan
Sunday November 27: 17.30pm NSWIS v VIS, 18.45pm QAS v WAIS
Monday November 28: 8.30am VIS v WAIS, 9.45am QAS v NSWIS
17.30pm NSWIS v WAIS, 18.45pm QAS v VIS
Tuesday November 29: 17.30pm QAS v NSWIS, 6.45pm VIS v WAIS
Wednesday November 30: 17.30pm WAIS v NSWIS, 6.45pm QAS v VIS
Thursday December 1: 17.30pm QAS v WAIS, 6.45pm NSWIS v VIS
Friday December 2: 8.30am Bronze medal game, 10.15am Gold medal game
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS