11 October 2021

Abingdon was warmly welcomed to Charterhouse to play their first ever water polo match last week. This term, we have a weekly water polo training session, with an experienced player in the form of Aaron Formby. Whilst we have enjoyed playing at school, with inter-house competitions and in sport sessions, we are aiming to develop water polo, play against other schools and enter competitions. We have entered the ESSA National Water Polo Championships this winter and are waiting for confirmation at the moment.

Charterhouse is well known for its football prowess but it is also a dominant force in the school water polo circuit, regularly finishing amongst the top schools in national competitions. Not knowing what to expect and several players down due to illness our players went and got changed. Mr Mason was first on the deck and had a chance to witness Charterhouse warm up. They were incredibly good, passing and shooting with power and accuracy. The Abingdon squad emerged from the changing room and very quickly took stock of the situation. They were facing a squad of perhaps 13 or so incredibly large players (mostly Upper Sixth) who were moving around the pool so smoothly they would not have been out of place at Sea World. The Abingdon team as a whole are incredibly fit, made up of some extremely good swimmers but were very much the underdogs here. The Charterhouse coach was friendly and happy to explain the rules.

The match was to be played over four quarters, each of eight minute duration. Charterhouse even had a rather swanky water polo score board. Mr Mason will be tweeting a picture of it soon – adding it to his growing collection of pictures of pool clocks and timing systems from around the UK. It was clear from the get go that we needed to keep an eye on our elite swimmers to save some energy for the gala that would take place versus Harrow and Charterhouse afterwards.

With any new activity, you have to start somewhere. Dropping the team in against one of the best school teams in the country would obviously be a steep learning curve. Abingdon was slow to adapt their 1990s Sunderland long ball approach but as the game went on, there were some really positive moments. Whilst the team took a bit of a beating and Charterhouse was scoring increasingly impressive goals, the Abingdon squad did themselves proud. This was their first experience of competitive water polo and they were disappointed not to get to play Harrow immediately afterwards. Harrow arrived towards the end of our match, and whilst it would have been great to give them a game we were there to also race.

Abingdon’s inaugural water polo game was a real triumph, the team played with real heart and got stuck in. There was a lot to learn and plenty to think about moving forward, we are excited at the prospect of playing again and there will probably be a big recruitment drive over the next month.

The first ever Abingdon water polo squad included:
Hugo Hewetson-Smith
Jacob Lamsdale
Zach Cooper
Ianto Brewer
Charlie Adams
Robert Smith
Thomas Jackson
Chris Skelton
Joe Watkiss
Alex Cooper Marcos
Henry Purcell

It’s probably worth noting the score was 21-1 to Charterhouse, with Alex Cooper Marcos scoring Abingdon’s first ever water polo goal in competition. Needless to say it was a consolation goal late in the fourth quarter, but the travelling fans and team went wild.

The Charterhouse players and coach were really friendly and offered lots of advice. Hopefully we will have another fixture shortly after half term and we’ll start to see some real progress in the team, the athletic ability is there but the technique and tactics need some work.

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