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Canoe polo team at worlds

The South African canoe polo team is currently overseas, preparing to face the best in the world at the 2010 ICF Canoe Polo World Championships, which are set to start on Wednesday.

South Africa has competed in seven out of the eight World Championships held thus far, and have proven themselves to be very competitive internationally. With┬áthe wealth of experience on board, this year’s team should be no exception.

The South African team arrived in Europe in time to play in two Pre-World Cup tournaments in preparation for the World Championships to be held in Milan, Italy, from 1-5 September.

The first tournament on the South African agenda was the De Paddle Tournament in Leper, Belgium, which was held from 21-22 August. Here the team claimed two wins, two draws and four losses, finishing 16th overall. Reflecting on De Paddle, team member Kade Burnett said: ÔÇ£One of our goals during the tour is to get the structure on attack and defence right, and to understand the game plan, so the experience of playing at De Paddle was invaluable.ÔÇØ

The next stop for the team was Italy, for the Bologna tournament which was played on 28-29 August. Not only did Team SA finish an impressive sixth overall at this tournament, the time in Bologna also afforded them the chance to play training matches against Italy, Russia and Canada.

Team South Africa have drawn a very strong pool for the 2010 World Championships and will have to play against France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Russia. With a goal of making the Top 12, the South Africans will have to win three out of their five group matches — a tough task but Coach Kevin Meier is confident in his team’s preparation.

ÔÇ£We will have to play really well to beat the others but with our pre-worlds competitions we are hoping to have increased our intensity up to a high enough level to give us a good chance.ÔÇØ

Meier went on to add that having the assistance of Andrea Donzelli in the lead up to the World Championships has been invaluable. ÔÇ£Being based in Europe and having previously coached the runners up to the World Champions, he has a wealth of knowledge on tactical play. There are two areas of the game which the SA team are not exposed to and those are the tactical play and the high intensity of international games. Andrea was able to help us develop our tactical skill.ÔÇØ

Although Canoe Polo is one of the lesser known disciplines in South Africa, it has seen a strong growth in South Africa in the past few years. CSA General Manager, Graham Bird attributes this to the people behind Canoe Polo in South Africa.┬áÔÇ£The increase in interest in Canoe Polo over the years is thanks mainly to the structures and dedication put in by the CSA Canoe Polo committee. They have driven the sport and hope to take it to even more people in the coming months.ÔÇØ

Bird went to add that: ÔÇ£CSA, through the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund grant will be purchasing 64 canoe polo bats which will be distributed around the country as part of the Canoe polo committee’s development plan.ÔÇØ

For more information on the 2010 ICF Canoe Polo World Championships please visit