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  Water Polo

Water polo team in dry spell

by Paul-Andre Walker, Staff Reporter

The Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) announced yesterday, that the country's water polo team is on the verge of missing out on the 2007 Junior World Champion-ships to be held in Long Beach, California (men) and Porto, Portugal (women) because of a $2.5 million shortfall.

According to ASAJ vice-president Garth Henriques, if the team misses going to the Pan American Junior Championships in Montreal, Canada next week, then they will be absent from the World Juniors.

The Pan-Am Juniors are a qualifying tournament for the world juniors and Jamaica won't get another opportunity to make it to the big show.

If Jamaica were faced to cancel the Pan-Am Juniors, it would be the second tournament they have failed to show for in a matter of months.

At the end of June, the Water Polo team missed out on going to the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in Puerto Rico for the very same reason.

Catastrophic setback

Missing that tournament was already a setback. Combine that with missing the Pan Am Championships and the World Juniors, and you have a catastrophe, which threatens to put a spoke in the wheels of the ASAJ's development plans for the sport, as their youngsters in training won't have any goals to look forward to over the next year and a half at least.

Thus far, the ASAJ has only managed to raise $500,000 and Henriques sums up the shortage to a lack of support from the larger corporate entities in the island.

If the remaining $2.5 million is not accumulated by next Tuesday, August 1, then the ASAJ will have to make the tough decision to either send one of the teams, the male or female, or scrap entry to the competition completely.

According to Henriques, that could have dire consequences. Firstly, he explained that the country would see a large reduction in the number and quality of invitations to international tournaments that they now receive.

Losing respect

Secondly, Henriques explained that hosting tournaments, which has admittedly become increasingly difficult for the ASAJ, would become even more of a problem with the team losing much of their hard earned respect in the pool.

As for pulling out of the tournament at this late stage, the ASAJ is certain that the repercussions, if not legal ones, will be long standing and threaten the viability of the sport.


"The parents keep going back to the same people in the different companies and those people are tired of it. They are wondering what the government and the larger corporations are doing," said Henriques.

In the way of creating funds, the ASAJ has put on a brunch. They have also approached various sponsors without much success and, according to Henriques, they have tried to get help from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), a request that has been turned down.

With the effort they have put in, not just to raise funds but also to improve their game in the pool, the ASAJ feels they would have disappointed the players if they were to withdraw.

"The guys have been training hard for this tournament. They have been going out and trying to collect money themselves and if this doesn't work out it will be a big blow for them," said Henriques.

"This trip was supposed to have been paid for by the ASAJ but we just don't have the money," he went on to explain.

The team qualified for the Pan-Am Junior Championships when they won bronze medals at last year's Central American and Caribbean Swimming Champion-ships, which was followed up by a double gold medal performance at the 2006 CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Barbados.

"The parents keep going back to the same people in the different companies and those people are tired of it. They are wondering what the government and the larger corporations are doing," said Henriques.

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