SunLive: Getting publicity for grassroots sport

Publicity is the name of the game if you wish to showcase grassroots sport to the public.

The inaugural WPOTWF winners, Marist Sharks

The local water polo community were rewarded for beating the drums of publicity, when they held their inaugural salt-water tournament on the shores of The Strand over the weekend.

In spite of the messages of doom from the two competing weather forecasting agencies in the country, the unique water polo event and most other Western Bay sport completed their competitions over the two days, albeit with rain clouds hovering on the periphery.

Sideline Sid made a rare visit to downtown Tauranga to catch the water polo action on Sunday.

If the business community want to attract people to the city centre during weekends, more sporting events and activities on the waterfront could be the answer.

The squeaky wheel of criticism, especially on social media, finds fault with much of what our city fathers are trying to achieve - in my humble opinion, they have got it right with the redevelopment of the waterfront.

The loss of some car parks have been compensated by a laid back space to enjoy the waterfront and its environment.

The drop-it-in-the-water water polo venue not only attracted a continuous crowd throughout the weekend, but created an atmosphere that had a real buzz to it.

Like this writer, there would be many experiencing the frenzied action of the aquatic sport for the first time.

Sports with little or no media profile always have passionate bands of supporters - Tauranga water polo's unique experiment over the weekend took their sport into the public view.

The water polo on the waterfront could be likened to back to the future, after salt-water baths were established at the bottom of First Avenue well over a century ago.

The salt-water baths were built by the “Tauranga Improvement Company” and officially opened on December 17 1885.

In 1914, a meeting was held in Tauranga to form a surf lifesaving organisation to guard the main beach at Mount Maunganui, which was attracting surf bathers at the weekend.

The lifesavers were recruited from the swimmers that used the First Avenue baths.

While their swimming skills were recorded as being very competent, constant practice was need to master the new drills of using the rescue reel.

The first surf lifesaving group fizzled out during WW1, before the establishment of the Mount Maunganui Surf Lifesaving Club in 1929.

Water polo also has roots back in the nineteenth century, where the game developed as a form of rugby football played in lakes and rivers in Great Britain.

Water polo was also one of the first team sports introduced to the modern Olympics, making its debut at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.

However, it took another century, before women's water polo became an Olympic event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The challenge for the local water polo community, is now to grow their sport in the public gaze, with events such as the weekend’s tournament.






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