Thursday, Dec 5, 2019
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BAF ratifies 16-member team for Pan Am Youth Water Polo Championships

The Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) has ratified a 16-member team that will travel to Trinidad and Tobago to compete in the 4th Union Americana de Natacion (UANA) Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships. The Bahamas will be represented in the 17-and-under boys division, and the team will compete at the National Aquatics Center in Balmain Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, from August 14-24, 2019.

The announcement was made via a press release on Tuesday.

Representing The Bahamas will be Aidan Johnson, Nicolas Wallace-Whitfield, Oliver Roberts, Alexander Turnquest, Jahkai Gray, Dominic Beneby, Gabriel Sastre, Dominic Demeritte, Alexander Gomez, Jelani Grant, Gabriel Encinar Czartoryski and Jayden Seymour.

The team will be coached by Laszlo “Coach Lotty” Borbely and he will be assisted by Coach Daniel Stojanovski. Anthony Knowles will also travel with the team and will represent The Bahamas as a FINA (International Swimming Federation) certified referee. The team’s chaperone will be Anitrah Rolle.

The team qualified for this tournament following a silver medal finish at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) Championships in San Salvador, El Salvador. According to the press release, this will be the first time The Bahamas will compete at such a high level in water polo.

The team will play against countries such as the United States of America (USA), Canada, Peru, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and host country Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Junior Pan American competition will be the toughest and most challenging championships Bahamas Water Polo has ever competed in,” said Bahamas Water Polo President Chris Illing in the press release. “The level of water polo will be world-class and a good indication on where we stand. The whole water polo organization, first and foremost the kids but also the parents and coaches, are putting together 110 percent effort in making sure the team succeeds during the 10-day competition in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Bahamas Water Polo has been very successful in international tournaments. In the under-16 division, they won gold at the CARIFTA Water Polo Championships three consecutive years – 2017, 2018 and 2019, a historic first for Bahamas Water Polo.

At CARIFTA in Wildey, Barbados, this year, the under-16 team prevented a Trinidad and Tobago clean sweep at the championships. They defeated Trinidad and Tobago 12-11 after goalkeeper Seymour made a save that would have sent the game into golden goal or penalties.

Seymour, who is in his first year in the under-16 age category, won the best goalie award in that age category.

Trinidad won the under-14 mixed, the under-18 boys and the under-19 girls divisions at CARIFTA this year.

The water polo players are training up to five hours per day to achieve the level of fitness and game awareness which is needed to compete at this level, said Illing in the press release. On most days they train in the mornings and afternoons, he said. The team participated in several tune-up tournaments as a step to elevate their teamwork and fitness levels.

Seven of the players will be in action for the Houston Storm Water Polo Team in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics that will be held this weekend in Orange County, California.

The players who will be participating in that tournament are Gomez, Turnquest, Johnson, Czartoryski, Sastre, Wallace-Whitfield and Roberts. Gomez will play for the under-18 team and the other players will play for the under-16 team.

“We again would like to thank the sponsors who helped us so far, including Comfort Suites Paradise Island, the MedNet Group, Hurricane Hole Development Company, Lowe’s Wholesale, Nassau Agencies as well as many family members, parents and friends who have given financial contributions in person and via the team’s GoFundMe page,” Illing said.

The 2019 UANA Water Polo Pan American Championships qualifies the top five finishers for the FINA Under-18 World Championships in 2020. The date and location of that tournament will be announced later.

Simba French

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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