BOP Times: Inaugural WPOTWF promises to offer plenty of entertainment, action & excitement

Bay of Plenty Times: With 120 water polo athletes competing in a fast-paced, all action tournament played in a makeshift pool inside the Tauranga Harbour, the city's inaugural Water Polo on the Waterfront competition will be an entertaining one to see.

Water Polo players test out the pool being used for the Water Polo on the Waterfront tournament this weekend

A total of 12 teams have registered for this weekend's tournament, coming from Rotorua, Wellington, Waikato, Auckland and Tauranga. They will play in a 18m by 13m mobile pool that has been roped off by the tidal steps beside The Strand.

Danny Kayes, who is one of the driving forces behind the event, says the tournament will run similar to a sevens rugby competition, as a fast-paced and shorter version of a regular water polo match. He says athletes will play eight-minute halves with non-stop games between 9am and 7pm on Saturday and between 9am and 4pm on Sunday.

Players will have to compete with tides and currents and a shorter match will mean there'll be plenty of action and Kayes is expecting a bit more wrestling than normal, too.

He says the aim is to attract more people towards the sport by putting on an event that will be entertaining for those the sport may not have appealed to before while also offering some fun competition in an exciting setting.

However, the event is facing potential detriment with heavy rain and strong winds forecast on Saturday - something Kayes is feeling uneasy about, especially considering the efforts teams have put in to attending this weekend's event as well as the amount of work the organisers have put into the tournament.

He says they have a Plan B in place, as well as other options should Saturday become too dangerous to play. These involve moving the tournament indoors, rescheduling the draw to become a one-day event or, worst case scenario, having to cancel the event.

Kayes says a lot of effort goes into attending the event and organisers do not want to cancel it, but depending on weather conditions safety is key. Organisers will decide by midday Friday whether to move the tournament indoors but a decision on whether to cancel the Saturday will be made that morning, with the potential to have a Sunday-only tournament if required. He hopes it can all run as planned.

Preparation for the event has been non-stop since December, with organisers working on it well before then. The concept is based on similar and successful events held in Australia including the annual four-day international Water Polo by the Sea event in New South Wales.

Being the first year of the Water Polo on the Waterfront, this weekend's tournament will act like a trial, with hopes of it also becoming an annual tournament. Kayes says they are already looking at additions they can make to future events with plans to introduce a women's competition next year and also running a separate exhibition match.

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