Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
I have been acquainted with water polo for many years, what with my brother, Neil, being a very successful coach. But it has never been more than a passing acquaintance – watching a game here and a game there; occasional tales – of victories and losses – enthusiastically recounted by Neil.
The joke goes that the Irish water polo team drowned four horses during their first ever match (insert laughter here.) But it’s not that kind of polo. Horses don’t feature. Neither do saddles, mallets or little white balls.
Simply put, water polo is very similar to soccer – apart from it being played in a swimming pool, rather than on a pitch. And the fact that it has seven players rather than 11; and involves dribbling, passing and shooting the ball with one’s hands rather than one’s feet; and has four “chukkas” (periods) rather than two; and is much faster-paced; and allows for rolling substitutions from the squad of 13; and involves no ‘diving’. And … In fact, it turns out it has very little in common with soccer apart from the same aim – to get the ball as close to the opposition goal as possible and to score more than the other team. Simple.
I don’t have the space to go into the intricacies of the game, here: It’s an exciting, fast, physically demanding contact sport (yes, contact sport – why do you think the players wear those funky caps?) requiring phenomenal fitness and high skill levels. Holding onto an opponent under water, pushing, eye-gouging and hitting are common. Do yourself a favour and go and read “Blood in the water: Hungary’s 1956 water polo gold“.
On Saturday I found myself at a ‘polo tournament between my old school Pretoria Boys’ High (PBHS) and long-time rivals Affies – Boys’ High’s Afrikaans brother-school across the railway line. I know Boys’ High won most of the games, including the first team game, but I don’t remember any of the scores – I was having too much fun to take notice. Here’s my odd (layman’s) take on the sport.
Considering the fact that this was the first time I was photographing water polo, and that I didn’t have a polarising filter, I was quite happy with the results. There are more from the day on my flickr page.