Hurricane makes a big impression

WATER POLO

MATT Skinner is a Hunter Hurricane hoping to head to the US and a college water polo scholarship on his way to a European professional career and a possible Olympic tournament in Brazil.

That’s what he hopes to do.

Yesterday the impressive 19-year-old, who has deferred a medical degree in the hope of a US college scholarship, was in Tamworth running the selection trials for Northern Inland Academy of Sport in the heated pool at Tamworth’s 360 Fitness and Gym.

Veteran water polo coach Ron Surtees was one person impressed by Skinner’s organisation, education and communication.

For more than two hours the teenager on the verge of Aussie national selection conducted an initial NIAS water polo selection session.

Another hugely impressed was new NIAS head coach Craig Salter.

“He is impressive isn’t he,” Salter said.

“We’ll select two squads from today, boys and girls. We’ll have the induction next week too. It’s all happened so quick. And then we’ll have our first training session next month.”

All the attending players at yesterday’s selection trials are under 16.

Games against the Southern Academy are planned as well as a trip to the NSW Institute of Sport.

“Having Ron (Surtees) as a consultant is going to be very handy too,” Salter added.

Having this facility as well is awesome.

“We’ve got state-of-the-art gear –  underwater cameras to show us what the kids are doing under the water during games. We’ve got all the dieticians and physiological stuff as well.”

More importantly they had young giant Skinner heading the first session in such a confident and composed manner.

He’s been playing water polo for eight years and on the fringe of Australian selection.

“It’s hard to tell at the moment,” he said.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work.”

He’s just come back from Brisbane where he played in the Australian All Stars game.

“I played for the Northern All Stars but we got beaten by two goals,” he said.

A centre back he’s deferring his medical degree course to hopefully play and go to school in a US college.

“I’ll see how it goes,” he said.

He’s also hopeful of playing in Europe and winning a spot in the Australian team to play in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

Who knows, he could have also helped another aspiring young player to begin a NIAS career that could also lead to Olympic deeds.

Ron Surtees knows that full well, being on the pool deck of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and watching two Tamworth “kids” Nathan Thomas and Craig Miller represent their city and country with such poise and pride.

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