The vibrant melting pot of Club Sport at the University means that some of the more successful and welcoming clubs often spend most of their time under the collective radar of the University. This has often been the case of the wonderfully successful Water Polo teams, so with their popularity continually on the rise, Jack Haugh sat down with the captains George Hall and Alison Eadie to find out all about the sport and just why the Glasgow Clubs are so good.
Guardian: I guess the big question is, why Water Polo? How did you get into it and what do you remember most from your time playing?
George Hall: For me I used to swim a lot for fitness, and coming to uni the clubs are together and we used to train one after another on Monday nights. So the natural thing to do was just to hang around and try it out, as you do as a fresher. It is quite easy to play it like that.
Alison Eadie: I never really knew what Water Polo was, but I was in Canada on my gap year and I saw a Water Polo game when I was there. It was Canada Water Polo ladies playing against New Zealand and I just happened to walk by it one day and stayed to watch – all I could say was ‘Wow’. Having done some swimming back in primary, I just came along and gave it a go. But it was mainly the people that made me stay.
Guardian: Why do you think it has never been fully embraced by the UK? It was created in Scotland, after all.
George: I don’t know, it is unusual but I think football being such a big thing here compared to other countries draws a lot of attention away from other sports. We’re not really quite sure, especially as it originated around here.
Alison: I think it is really strange in Scotland because there are certain areas that it flourishes. Dunfermline has two amazing teams such as Portobello. I would love to know why it’s not.
Guardian: Do you see its popularity increasing?
Alison: I don’t know if it just that I am just more aware of it but I see a lot more happening. In last April there was the Commonwealth event up in Aberdeen, and with a whole new pool and a lot of tickets sold, and last week there was the British National League and this was broadcast live. I’d like to hope it would.
George: It feels like more people are trying it out and with more aware of the sport, it will hopefully increase.
Alison: I also think it is important to target swimmers who already have that core ability.
Guardian: Do you think it could be down to a lack of facilities? I know a lot of schools in Scotland no longer have a pool.
George: That’s quite hard though because a swimming pool is such a big thing both physically and to run. It is hard to get the investment in it.
Alison: I think with all these kinds of things encouraging minority sports all needs to start at primary levels and secondary schools. As I say, we need to tap into the swimmers. When I swam, I always thought it was quite boring, just really up and down, there was never really a sense of being part of a team. And I think that is what a lot of the swimmers who come over to water polo think, the social aspect of training and the playing as a team makes them want to do it over swimming.
George: It is much more fun than swimming in that sense.
Alison: (Laughs) They are going to kill us for saying that!
George: Nah they won’t, they know it is true!
Alison: We often try and convince the club that we should change the name to the Water Polo and Swimming Club, but sadly no luck so far!
Guardian: Having won most of your matches in the league this season (both teams were undefeated at the time of print), what would you put the success of the Glasgow club down to? And feel free to say the captain.
Alison: (Laughs) Our motivational speeches?
George: I am not really sure about the girl’s team, but I know there are a lot of former captains still in the team, about three, and they help to provide a lot of influence and help me out a lot. But it also the training, going from two-to-seven hours a week in as a many years.
Alison: Yeah, I would say that our fitness levels have definitely increased. For the girl’s team, we have definitely benefited from having a lot of players stay on from last year, and those who have come in have really put in the hard work and have just excelled this year. Also, I think winning games in itself helps. It keeps people coming down and training and working hard because they want to keep on winning.
Guardian: And should we be looking out for any players in particular? Again, you can say yourselves.
George: I wish!
Alison: We have been very lucky to have an Italian player come over, who has played for years before. Francesca (Cornaglia) and she is fantastic. She has been really good in terms of just watching her play; her movement in the water is fantastic. She will be our top goal scorer this year.
George: We’ve got a guy called Rob Slater who played for GB under 18’s and is up from Manchester, and he is top goal scorer with double the number of goals than anyone else this season. He is a standout player.
Guardian: And finally, what would you say to anyone who is considering trying out Water Polo?
George: It is probably one of the best sports to stay fit as well. It is consistently rated one of the toughest sports in the world. My favourite quote is something like ‘It’s like playing rugby but with the added complication that you have to prevent yourself from drowning.’
Alison: Yeah, give it a go; it’s such a fun sport to play!
And with that in mind, I think we could be looking at an incredibly successful sports club for many years to come. Sadly, both teams have been subsequently knocked out of the National Trophy since our conversation, but, with the leagues almost secured and the club only going up, it would take a brave man to bet against the Water Polo teams being even more successful next year.