EIGHT of Tamworth’s most talented young water polo players are spreading their wings across the Tasman and down to Adelaide for two major tournaments.
Katie Salter, Jayden Gimbergh, Jackson Sharpe, Kate Farquhar and Pat Hofman are in New Zealand for the Pan Pacs Youth Water Polo festival, while Chelsea Lehman, Lachlan Wheeler and Isaac Moxon are headed down to Adelaide to play in the East Coast Challenge.
They’ll be representing the NSW Waratahs 14s while Salter, Farquhar and Gimbergh will play for the Country 16s and Hofman will take to the water for the NSW CHS 15s.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Hofman said.
He’s had a few months to look forward to it, with the side selected back in March.
The Pan Pacs is regarded as the southern hemisphere’s largest water polo event and started in Auckland on Saturday and runs until next Wednesday.
The 16s division, which the Tamworth contingent is contesting, will finish tomorrow.
At 14, Hofman is one of the youngest in the team.
He can play in either a shooting or defensive role, and has also on occasion played in goal.
The CHS sides have done fairly well over the years but will be up against it playing up an age division.
“We have a little bit of an expectation that the other sides will be very strong,” Hofman said.
“They are 16.”
However the games pan out it’ll certainly be a good learning experience, with the tour for him to continue after the Pan Pacs.
“We’re going to Rotorua and will play some club sides there,” he said.
He is also part of the inaugural Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) water polo squad, as are Lehman, Gimbergh, Sharpe and Salter.
Salter is the baby of the Country side and, like Hofman, can’t wait.
“Absolutely (looking forward to it),” she said.
It’ll be her first time visiting New Zealand but it won’t be her first taste of international competition.
“I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago for the Hawaiian International,” Salter said.
That was with the Hunter Academy.
Last year she played in the East Coast Challenge.
She’s had to travel as far away as Canberra to attend training, but they have come together pretty well.
“We’re working really well together,” Salter said.
“We’ve all found our positions and where we sit.”
They’ve got three Kiwi teams – North Harbour A, Marist Blue and Rotorua – as well as Canberra A in their pool.
There are four pools all up.
She said it would be good to learn about how other teams play.
“They told us to expect some really hard games, and strong competitors and physical games,” Salter said.
The East Coast Challenge starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday.