If you were to ask a child in the remote community of Roebourne in Western Australia a month ago what Water Polo was, the response you would have received was a ‘blank stare’!
Ask one of the 30 kids that have been playing Water Polo at the Roebourne Aquatic Centre now to exp lain the sport to their peers “a game that’s a mix between basketball and soccer but in the water” is what you’re likely to hear.
The Melville Water Polo Club (MWPC) has developed a partnership with Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for youth to develop ‘Flippa Ball in the Pilbara’, in the communities of Karratha, Wickham and Roebourne in Western Australia.
Flippa Ball is a non-contact version of water polo for children, it aims to raise awareness and participation in sport whilst contributing to community development and addressing health needs within the remote communities.
The program was initially started with a competition in Karratha, a remote community 1,700kms from Perth, with such success it was only natural to take this game, which fits so perfectly with the hot climate of the north-west, to the two communities close by. There are now 75 kids playing ‘Flippa Ball’ in Karratha, 55 kids playing in Wickham and 30 kids playing in Roebourne. Due to the popularity of the game there are now two adult ‘water polo’ competitions that have been established.
MWPC is lending its hands and well equipped staff to the Pilbara communities, to not only coach the kids but also to coach and mentor the parents and volunteers so they will be able to sustain the program themselves.
‘Flippa Ball’ endeavours to engage youth in structured activities after school hours and on we ekends. Organised sport is something that can be taken for granted by people living in the city but in remote communities around Australia there is often no opportunity for the youth to par take in structured physical activity, no provision for youth programs nor recreational facilities available, leaving the youth with little to do and as a result often the rate of anti-social behaviour is high. For many kids Flippa Ball is the only regular sport run during the summer months in the communities.
To have fun and engage in an activity such as Flippa Ball will assist in creating routine and stability, build on fitness, ball skills, water confidence and the value of working within a team and following directions.
MWPC aims to set up and support healthy, sustainable local water polo competitions, forming a life-long attachment to the game that can only contribute to improved health and fitness, promoting healthy lifestyle choices and strengthening community relationships.
Providing coaching and mentoring by staff and athletes as role models from the highest level, MWPC will develop water polo within the communities for the next three years developing inter-community competition and also an opportunity for the participants for talent identification, development of partnerships between community and the national league teams in Fremantle and Mariners/Marlins, creating opportunities for the children to compete outside their region.
In the years to come we may see some of these kids from the Pilbara playing Water Polo for their country!
It is through the partnership with the Melville Water Polo Club and Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth that we are able to give these kids the opportunity’s they deserve.