> Article boy Scott Carpenter for www.laswpc.com
Water Polo By The Sea is an annual event set up by 4 time Olympian Thomas Whalan to market water polo to the celebrities and media of Australia and try to bring the game into the public spotlight. It takes place at the most famous pool in Australia on Bondi Beach in Sydney. Luckily they chose to have Australia play an International All Star team and I was asked to play for the Internationals.
They flew in players like Tamas Kasas (3 time Olympic Gold Medallist) and Maurizio Felugo (World Champion and Silver Medalist from 2012 Olympics) for the Internationals as well as other players from all over the world. We were coached by 4 time Olympic Gold winning coach Ratko Rudic (including Gold with Croatia at 2012 Olympics). We had a warm up game the day before at Balmain’s pool in the sea which was good prep for me as I hadn’t been in the water for 3 weeks due to an illness and the Aussie Xmas break. We lost that game 11 8 but it was very low key and we got to know each other and prepare for the real thing at Bondi. Jamie McIlquham came down to watch the game with his fiancee so it was nice to catch up with him about the old times at Lancaster.
The next day we spent the morning doing media stuff at Bondi Beach and were live on Breakfast TV to promote the game. I got a bit of a shock when I arrived later for the game and realised you could barely fit another person in the stands. The pool and the view were amazing. It was a really glamorous occasion and apparently it was full of celebrities but as expected I didn’t recognise many. The ones I did notice afterwards were Buddy Franklin who is the best Aussie Rules footballer in Australia and a few rugby players. Loads of the celebs jumped in at half time for a penalty shoot out but they were all terrible.
The game itself was a lot of fun but we were told to take it more seriously than the previous day at Balmain and bring our ‘A game’ for the crowd and the cameras. We were introduced individually and they played our anthems (I was the whitest man on either team). Both teams played a zone to give us chance to chuck the ball around and score some nice goals, but it was very windy and for the first half a quarter it looked like it might be a stinker as everyone got adjusted. Luckily after that it really opened up. Australia jumped out to a 3 0 lead and unsurprisingly looked more organised than us. The zone defence meant there was plenty of space and I scored a couple from far out that even Chris Hartley would be proud of to make it 3 2. After that the game went goal for goal with some great shots flying in. Australia scored a goal with a minute to go to make it 9 8, and Tamas Kasas had a chance to equalise right at the end but my old team mate Eddie Slade in goal made a nice save.
There was a huge after party with free drinks so it was nice to mingle with everyone including a surprising number of English people who had come down to cheer on the lone Pom. It was good fun to play with some of the best players in the world in such an amazing place and everyone was really chuffed with the game and the event.
Goal Scorers Australia: Aaron Younger 2, Chris Dyson 2, BJ Howden, Daniel Lawrence, Joel Swift, Richie Campbell, Rhys Howden
Goal Scorers Internationals: Joseph Kayes 3, Scott Carpenter 2, Maurizio Felugo, Tamas Kasas, Milan Nesic
International Team: Tamas Kasas (Hungary), Maurizio Felugo (Italy), Deni Fiorentini (Italy), Joseph Kayes (New Zealand), Scott Carpenter (GB), Milan Nesic (Serbia), Dusan Krstic (Serbia), Samuelle Avallone (Italy/Aus), Matt Burton (USA), Michael Rosenthal (USA), Marco Bartolocci (Italy), Joel Dennerley (Aus), Jeremy Davie (Aus)