CEO Corner: Changes on the horizon

Water Polo Australia CEO Chris Harrison

CEO Corner: Changes on the horizon


CEO Corner: Changes on the horizon, in the pool and out

There has been much conjecture in recent times regarding prospective rule changes for our sport.

Whilst not yet having the official notice from FINA (at the time of writing), I believe the following rules have been agreed to: 

  • The FINA World Leagues in 2015 and 2016 be used as tests for a reduction in the Field of Play for men from 30 metres x 20 metres to 25 metres x 20 metres; and
  • FINA World Junior Water Polo Championships in 2015 for both men & women and the 2016 FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships for both men & women be competition tests of more new proposals, namely:
    • Length of FOP be 25 metres
    • Reduction in number of players for a team from thirteen to eleven with corresponding reduction of players in water from seven to six, one of whom shall be the goalkeeper 
    • Reduction in Ball Size (Men only)

Regular readers of this blog would recall my comments after attending the FINA symposium in Cancun earlier this year and I am certain the long term end game around these rule changes come from discussions there that propose that all Olympic sports need to demonstrate equality in their code.

If the competing men’s Olympic teams move to 11 players instead of 13 it will allow 24 extra bed spaces at the Olympic Games which will go a long way to finding the required space to have 12 women’s teams at the Games.

All of the above rules and suggestions, in theory, should also lead to more goal scoring and fast counter attacking that should excite crowds, particularly those that are not regular fans of water polo.

What do the other rules mean for the domestic game in Australia?

We need to plan accordingly and as soon as official notification comes from FINA we will move to align with the new rules and all National championships will be held under the FINA rules.

These are very exciting times for our sport and we will keep you in touch regarding these rule announcements.

Maintaining the overseas focus and I had the pleasure of watching both of our senior national teams train in Japan recently.

These training camps provided the opportunity for our emerging athletes to not only experience international games but also train with the national team coaches – in this case Greg McFadden and Paul Oberman, who were ably assisted by our two past scholarship coaches Bec Rippon and Andrew Yanitsas.

My thanks to Greg and Paul for allowing me to experience first hand the inner workings of the camp. Whilst we always consider the benefits to the athletes, tours like this one to Japan also provide invaluable experience to our developing coaches.

On a side note, life is never dull when travelling for water polo and this trip was no different. I was ‘lucky’ enough to have an earthquake experience on my departure day. I was just arriving at the airport and a 5.6 magnitude quake hit, alarms went off but I took my response from what the locals were doing.

In short they were just getting about business and I was later told it was a little larger than the average earthquake, but not too bad, so tick, that life experience has been checked off and certainly does not need to be repeated!

Back at home and on October 25 we will be holding an Extraordinary General Meeting to align our constitution with the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) mandatory governance requirements. 

As part of the ASC strategy to improve sport governance the ASC produced a list of ‘Mandatory Sports Governance Principles’. The ASC decreed that the adoption of and adherence to these Principles would be mandatory for the 7 highest funded sports (this did not include water polo).

They ASC also made it clear that failure to actively progress towards adoption of the principles could lead to reduction of funding for the offending sports. We were advised recently that the ASC has increased the number of sports for which the Principles are mandatory to 15.

That top 15 includes water polo, so in anticipation of our impending inclusion in the mandatory compliance category we have been working for six months on redrafting the WPA constitution to ensure its compliance with the ASC requirements.

It is important to note that our desire to reform the constitution is not solely driven by the ASC. The Water Polo Australia Board firmly believes that the adoption of the proposed new constitution will lead to a substantial improvement in the governance of our sport.

So, exciting times in and out of the pool.

Until next time, I hope you score some goals,

Chris Harrison


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