CEO Corner: Moving forward

Water Polo Australia CEO Chris Harrison

CEO Corner: Moving forward


While the National Water Polo League hums along and some outstanding displays have been seen in the pool, there’s plenty happening on dry land too.

Great news from Sydney’s Northern Beaches where people power – water polo driven people power – encouraged a rethink on design plans for the Andrew Boy Charlton Swim Centre at Manly and new a new DA was submitted and approved for a purpose built water polo pool. 

I’ll have more details next month but a huge thank you to Manly Council, the Mayor Jean Hay, everyone involved at the ground level from SNB Breakers and all those who emailed the council.

On the 19th and 20th February I attended the State Executive meeting in Melbourne and it was a most productive two days. 

Presentations were made by:

  • Brendan Lynch - Strategic planning and National participation
  • Noel Harrod - NCC update and competitions
  • Mark Pititto - Our database and Fox Sports Pulse (formerly SportingPulse) and its potential
  • Nick Holland - ASC Governance and business Capacity
  • Tamarah Knox - WPAL Annual sport review 

It was all valuable learning, especially as we look to have the sport’s new strategic plan finalised by mid April.

Further afield I attended the FINA Water Polo conference in Cancun the week following our get together in Melbourne. 

The Conference gathered experts from the oldest Olympic team sport to discuss and exchange ideas on the future evolution of water polo with a focus on improvement of its place and importance on the international sport market. 

The conference included panels with representatives from other professional leagues and newly popular team sports, sponsors, media/TV, players and leaders of water polo. 

This two-day initiative reaffirmed the need for a more understandable sport, capable of attracting new fans on a global scale. The most interesting from my perspective were Claude Ruibal (Global Head of Sports for Google/YouTube) and Peter Diamond (Senior Vice President Programming NBC Olympics).

Claude Ruibal said that TV is about 'reach' but YouTube is about 'engagement'.  

His nine key points were:

  • Think Global
  • Consider all screens - 3 in 5 are mobile!
  • Embrace your library and put it on-line
  • Let your fans be fans 
  • Collaborate with like minds
  • Programme for your platform
  • Audiences make good creators 
  • Subscribers matter
  • YouTube and Google can and will assist

Peter Diamond offered some suggestions to make our sport more broadcast friendly.

  • Fixed time slot - currently a game goes for 1hr8min which is no good for scheduling
  • Lighting must be good for filming
  • Rules! Too many whistles
  • Virtual technology – how about a goal light?

He also made mention of how he liked the Australian green and gold hats which just goes to show how much these guys pay attention to detail.

There is a lot of food for thought there and many things for the sport to consider.

At home we have formed a partnership with travel provider SportsLink International

Supporters of our teams have previously travelled with SportsLink International to the London 2012 where they organised, amongst other things, ‘Australia House’, the location the Aussie Stingers celebrated their bronze medal with friends and family. 

The formalisation of this partnership between Water Polo Australia and SportsLink International will provide an opportunity to deliver a better experience for travellers that support our national teams abroad and SportsLink will offer a fantastic trip to two very exciting cities for the 2014 FINA World Youth Championships.

Official tours are available for any supporters, family and friends wishing to travel to the men’s FINA World Youth Championships in Istanbul in August, with future packages available later this year for the women’s FINA World Youth Championships in Madrid.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to once again thank outgoing President Peter Kerr for his wonderful service to water polo, not just in Australia but around the world.

Peter’s contribution has been massive and I know he has left new President Phil Garling and his board in great shape to tackle the challenges ahead.

Until next time, I hope you score some goals.

Chris Harrison


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