Inspiration: Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, left, delivers a motivational talk to members of the national 18 & under water polo team at the Marlins Swim Club in Westmoorings Tuesday night. The national team leaves for the December 1-9 Fina World Youth Water Polo Championships in Perth, Australia on Saturday.

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Water polo boys get pep talk

...Leave Saturday for World Youth Championships

By Mark Pouchet

Minister of Sports Anil Roberts emphasised teamwork as he delivered a motivational address to the national 18 & under male water polo squad Tuesday night at the Marlins Swim Club in Westmoorings.

And manager Peter Gillette says the team is very fit and focussed on their task ahead.

The team is scheduled to fly out Saturday to attend the First FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships in Perth, Australia from December 1-9.

They will travel to New York where they will overnight before proceeding to Qatar. They then head on to their final destination in Perth on December 27. That is one day before the Games Village at Challenge Stadium is officially opened, so Gillette says arrangements have been made for the T&T team to be hosted by T&T natives living in Perth for that night.

At Westmoorings on Tuesday, Roberts congratulated the athletes and reminded them that they will forever be remembered in the history books as the first T&T water polo team to ever qualify for a World Championships.

They qualified at the Pan Am Juniors last year in Puerto Rico, placing fourth overall and beating the previous year's champions, Canada, to secure a Worlds berth.

In his talk, the minister emphasised the importance of teamwork and looking out for one another, as well as the need to always present themselves professionally and be uniformly dressed in the national colours.

Roberts recognised that at this tournament, T&T will be facing the best teams in the world.

The boys in red, white and black will start in Group C, alongside Uzbekistan, Romania, Iran and Greece. Their first match will see them tackling Iran on December 1.

Roberts' advice was "to take each game one at a time and not allow the result of any one game whether favourable or not, to affect your focus and mental sharpness for successive games."

The minister also advised the manager as well as the coaches—USA's Adam Foley and T&T's Alan Too-a-Foo—of the importance of getting the team acclimatised to the new time zone and to ensure that they were always well hydrated and nourished.

Roberts further spoke to the coaches about the importance of proper warming down and drew on his experience as a swim coach and a sports commentator, giving examples of teams that did not do their warm downs properly and ultimately paid the price of defeat due to fatigue in the later stages of their tournaments.

For Gillette, the team is well prepared following the intervention over the last four months of strength and fitness conditioner Colin Seabright, who produced a tailor-made a programme for the team geared to the demands of water polo training and competition.

He said the squad also benefitted from training with the older national 19 & under players during the last year in a schedule that peaked at nine water sessions a week (four mornings and five evenings) and three land sessions per week.

Those sessions emphasised sustained sprinting and strategic and tactical play.

Their final ten days of preparation included a visit from the No.3 club team in the USA, University of Texas, who have been here since last Friday.

"We were fortunate enough...although we could not afford to travel, to compete against other teams, to have a team from the University of Texas come here and scrimmage with our guys and that started last week and will continue up until Thursday (today), which will provide our boys with the last minute fine-tuning they need," Gillette said.

"So right now I would say the team is looking fit and focused and they are coming together quite nicely. We're seeing synergy in the team defence and we are quite pleased with the stage they are at," he added.

Gillette also said a phsyiotherapist in Australia has been engaged for the team.

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