Not long now to the start of the new season and, already, we're being asked how the second half of the campaign will shape up for clubs involved in Women's Championship 2 and Men's Championship 4! It works like this:
Women's Championship 2: 12 teams (bottom three from Div 2, nine from Div 3), split into two groups of six, each playing four matches (omitting the team that finished immediately below them in phase one). Teams are then seeded into groups based on finishing order and go to a grand finale weekend where the top two in each group play a promotion mini-league (3 games each); and the next-ranked teams form two more four-team mini leagues (2 games each against sides not played earlier in the Championship).
Men's Championship 4: 10 teams (bottom three from Div 4, seven from Div 5), split into two groups of five, playing each other once (4 games each). This leads to a grand finale weekend where the top two in each group play a promotion mini-league (3 games each); each of the six remaining teams play the three teams from their opposite group (3 games each).
Full details will be circulated shortly to club secretaries by Match Secretary Chris Stephens.
euro champs honour for damien
Congratulations to BWPL referee Damien Taylor on his selection to officiate at the recent European Championships in Budapest.
He refereed the men's matches between Romania and Georgia and Italy and Georgia, followed by the women's 5th/6th clash between Russia and Greece.
second phase venues
Venues are now completed for the second phase of the season and include first visits to Sunderland, Matlock and Lancaster University.
Once again, the men's and women's Super 5s finale will be staged at the Surrey University sports complex, Guildford - on 24/25 January.
In the first phase, the programme includes a first visit to Portsmouth's Mountbatten Leisure Centre and a return to the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh.
Men's Division 5 comprises seven teams this season, playing each other once in phase one; Women's Division 3 has nine teams, who will each play six matches in phase one. If you have a question, please contact Match Secretary, Chris Stephens, firstname.lastname@example.org. Venues are now published on the divisional fixtures pages and there is list of pools on the Venues page.new teams join bwpl
BWPL divisions have been adjusted for the new season following the resignation of three teams - and the addition of three more!
Out go City of Leeds, Old Whitgiftians (both men) and City of Manchester Barracudas (women). Castleford join men's Division 5 while Division 3 of the women's competition will be boosted by the addition of English Roses, a masters team featuring several ex-internationals, and West London Penguin Rockhoppers, who rejoin the League after a brief absence.
Leeds' departure has led to key changes in the men's divisions, with South Derbyshire moving up to Division 3 at the start of the 2014 campaign and Basildon stepping up from Division 5 to Division 4. In all, there are 64 teams in the British League.
Backing for gb women from bwpl chairman
BWPL Chairman David Andrews has added his support to the campaign against the removal of all funding from the GB women's water polo team. He said today (6 March): "The decision is a disaster, not only for the national team but the sport as a whole.
"The role model effect of these athletes is huge and has allowed the standard of domestic competition to improve beyond belief in the past few years. The GB under-20 team competed at last year's World Championships and broke into the elite top eight for the first time in a generation and it is these players who will form the basis of our team in years to come, not just in our quest for Rio 2016 but beyond to 2020.
"Without a fully funded national team, water polo will lose its role models, the aspiration of future generations and will condemn the sport to being a "sidelined spectator" on the international stage.
"I urge the authorities to reconsider their decision and reinstate the funding for 'our girls' and allow them to realise their full potential, not just for Rio but for the long term future."
death of dave foster
The death occurred in Spain on 13 March of former London League and National League referee Dave Foster.
Dave, formerly of the Brighton club, moved to Spain several years ago. He will be recalled by many as the ref who travelled everywhere in "a little white van."
legge brothers star as cheltenham win british crown
Cheltenham and Liverpool took the honours at the British Championship finals in Manchester on 22/23 February.
The most dramatic finish was in the men's event, where Cheltenham, runners-up in the BWPL, snatched victory over BWPL champions Mannchester after a penalty shoot-out.
Cheltenham led 8-4 after three quarters. But they then played a man down for four minutes due to one of their players being excluded for a brutality offence and were pegged back to 8-8 at the final whistle. The tense shoot-out was settled by Cheltenham's Legge brothers. Goalkeeper Sam saved two penalties while brother Adam took responsibility for scoring the last of the five-metre shots to give Cheltenham a 12-11 victory. Portobello beat Invicta 9-6 to claim the bronze medal.
Otter, the BWPL champions, missed out on the double when they went down 15-12 to Liverpool in the final. Fiona McCann (5) and Katie Hesketh (4) were the chief scorers for Liverpool. Manchester took third place with a 13-10 win against Coventry.
'thriving' domestic game offers hope for gb water polo
A comment by David Sparkes, British Swimming Chief Executive, that the sudden stripping of Olympic funding for the women's game "could well signal the death" of the sport in Britain, sent shock waves through the UK water polo community.
While UK Sport's £4.54 million cut in support is undoubtedly a devastating blow, BWPL chairman David Andrews said today (11 February): "What this statement completely overlooks is that, at present, the domestic game in this country, led by the British League and supported by local leagues (both senior and junior) across the country, is in the healthiest state it has been for years.
"The recent BWPL Super 5s finale at Guildford produced some of the highest quality club matches witnessed in this country for a long time and there is no doubt that the impact over recent years of the RTCs has contributed hugely to the all-round improvement in quality in the lower divisions of our men's and women's divisions, where many of our younger, aspiring players compete.
"Many clubs report a surge in interest and participation prompted by the Olympics. In other words, there remain many positive elements in the British scene, ensuring that the sport will continue to thrive at national and club level thanks to the commitment of its dedicated supporters and volunteers."
The British League will support any initiative which ensures our elite players are allowed to compete effectively at the highest international level.
An e-petition launched by Katie Hesketh, of Liverpool, rapidly attracted more than 2,000 signatures.
fiona wins top goalscorer accolade
Congraulations to GB Olympian Fiona McCann, of Liverpool Lizards, who topped the women's Super 5s goals chart this season with 35. Runner-up with 31 was Otter captain Lex Higlett.
For a second year, another GB Olympian, Lancaster's Alex Parsonage, was lead marksman in men's Super 5s, with 28. Mike Bourne, of City of Manchester, took second place with 27. See Statistics page for scorers and major kings in all divisions.
death of annette money
The death has occurred of former GB and Scottish international Annette Money (nee Pearson), aged 49, following a short illness.
Annette, a life member of the Menzieshill Whitehall Club, was a fine swimmer and water polo player and arguably the finest female polo player produced in Scotland.
She was in two world record teams for the 100-mile relay and earned more than 60 caps for GB, playing in European and World Championships and pre-Olympic tournaments.
Menzieshill President Murray McLeod writes: "She was a true club person and once said her proudest moment was captaining Menzieshill to the British Ladies Polo Championship in 1984. She was also the first-ever Scottish Water Polo Player of the Year. Our thoughts are with her husband, Gavin, three daughters, and all her family."
Young refs make their mark
It's great to see young referees excelling in the British League. At Liverpool (9/10 November), Connor Jukes, aged 17, son of international referee Mike, teamed up with 19-year-old Katie Hesketh to take charge of the men's Championship 3 games between Grantham and South Derbyshire and Grantham and Cambridge.
Earlier this season, Katie, who plays for Liverpool, achieved another landmark when she and Vicki Hawkins, of Coventry, became the first all-female reffing partnership in BWPL history.
water polo - the toughest sport of all!
What's the toughest sport in the world?
Rugby? American football? Apparently not. According to an American website, which based its judgment on six key factors - speed, endurance, strength, agility, skill level and physicality - it's water polo! Quite right, too. For more details, see http://bleacherreport.com/articles/832927-what-is-the-worlds-toughest-sport
players pay tribute to dave warriner
Players from Basildon and their men's Division Five rivals Cheltenham Spartans observed a minute's silence in memory of the late Dave Warriner before their match at Ponds Forge, Sheffield (28 September).
Dave, who died suddenly aged 46, was a stalwart of Essex and London League water polo, chairman of the Basildon club and a member of their newly-entered BWPL team. Dave had many friends throughout the sport and our thoughts are with his wife Jane and their young family.
Table official Trevor Hyde has won the London Region Aquaforce award for services to officials' development following a nomination by East, London and North-East regions.
Trevor, who is celebrating 50 years of involvement in the sport, has coached and trained many players and officials and is a regular course tutor. He was a FINA table official at the London 2012 Olympics.
ASA London Region President Stephen Baker presented the award at the BWPL event at Watford Woodside Leisure Centre (21/22 September). Trevor's name goes forward for the National Aquaforce Awards - good luck, Trevor!
pressure off for top GB youngsters
Britain's future stars will be able to concentrate on representing their BWPL clubs this season rather than facing a "club or country" dilemma over clashes with national training weekends.
BWPL voiced great concern a while ago about the scheduling of National Talent weekends at Cardiff International Pool between September and December, pointing out that those involved would miss out on the best domestic competitive matches available to them.
Now, we're delighted to learn that the National Talent start has been put back to next January.
Water Polo National Performance Director Graeme Thompson explained: "The decision to move the national camp weekends aspect of the talent programme was taken on the principle that presently, within GB water polo, players need to have the opportunity to have the maximal amount of water polo.
"Therefore, to have clashes of NC weekends and BWPL matches - and players having to decide one or the other - reduces the number of water polo experiences overall in a season for them.
"Going forward, all stakeholders need to consider this principle along with the other key one of seeking to ensure that the quality of water polo activity is as good as possible for all players. These two key principles will be key to providing players with experiences that retain them in the sport and develop them to their full potential."
bwpl and senior clubs debate future options
The crisis in GB men’s international water polo, which lost the bulk of its funding in the aftermath of the Olympics, has prompted key talks involving the British League and representatives of current Super 5s teams.
Bristol Central, Cheltenham, City of Manchester, Lancaster and Portobello believe it is now essential to provide more quality competition at senior club level via the BWPL. The aims would include maintaining and improving current standards, boosting the development of younger players and encouraging local support for teams through the introduction of home-and-away fixtures.
BWPL chairman David Andrews said the League had every sympathy with the clubs’ position but that any change in structure of the season could only occur with the full agreement of all member clubs – therefore, nothing could happen before 2014/15. However, the meeting agreed in principle:
* That once the current Division One format had been completed in the first phase of the 2014/15 season, there could be scope for home-and-away matches in the Super 5s programme between December and the end of March, culminating in a ‘top four’ finale at a shared venue.
It was also agreed that:
* Current Division 1 and 2 clubs would be consulted to determine their support.
* Women’s clubs to be asked whether similar arrangements would be welcomed in their programme.
There was general concern at the exploratory meeting that BWPL had recently been demoted below England Talent training in the ‘pecking order’ of events in the ASA Priority Competition Rankings, potentially depriving youngsters of an opportunity to represent their BWPL clubs when date clashes occurred.
BWPL is raising the problem with British Swimming’s Men’s Water Polo Management Group.
DEATH OF hugh cullen
Scottish water polo has lost one of its most experienced administrators following the death on 12 May of Hugh Cullen.
Hugh, from Glasgow, organised the British Championships for a number of years as well as Home Nations tournaments on a couple of occasions. In Scotland, he was a member of the national water polo committee and managed the national team.
He was a referee, British League delegate and a masters swimmer.