1997 National Senior & Junior Coach’s Reports
May 22, 2012 Leave a comment
The period from May 1996 until January 1998 was particularly busy in my coaching career as I was simultaneously performing the duties of Senior and Junior National Coach. Although difficult, in the end it turned out to be a very fulfilling time as we achieved good results for Australia – both teams reached the world championships’ semi-final stage.
The Senior team’s report summarizes the work implemented prior to the 1998 world championships (related posts: ‘USA v AUS January 4 at Bondi Icebergs’ and ‘Australian Men’s Olympic Squad’). We made big progress in the previous 16 months to rectify the shortcomings identified in the ‘1996 National Senior Coach’s Report’. That work and ensued changes brought us closer to the skill levels of the top teams. However, it was my conviction then and remains now that in order to match the top nations and maximize our chances of achieving a good result we needed the highest degree of mobilization and playing discipline in each game – by and large we did it.
Final standing in Perth-1998: 1. Spain 2. Hungary 3. Yugoslavia 4. Australia 5. Italy 6. Russia 7. United States 8. Greece 9. Croatia 10. Slovakia 11. Kazakhstan 12. Brazil 13. Canada 14. South Africa 15. Iran 16. New Zealand
Thank you: Back row – Mark Oberman, Warren McDonald (Doctor), Sean Boyd, Brent Kirkbride (Physiotherapist), Gavin Woods, Don Cameron (Manager), Geoff Clark, Chris Horsley (Psychologist), Tomaz Lasic, John Fox, Grant Waterman; Front row – Peter Soros, Paul Oberman, Craig Miller, Eddie Denis, Nathan Thomas and Daniel Marsden. You did Australia proud!
The Junior team’s report covers the ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’ of our performance at the 1997 WC (see also ‘1996 National Junior Coach’s Report’ post).
The main benefit of simultaneously coaching two squads was that it allowed us to fast-track the development of young players for the Senior team – which lacked quality players after 1996 – in accordance with our technique-tactical conceptions and requirements.
When they were brought into the squad early in 1996, nobody believed that Sean Boyd, Gavin Woods and Peter Soros would make the team at the 1998 WC. Within a short period of time they made the rapid transition from being inexperienced rookies to world-class players who were integral to the senior team’s success in Perth.
One of the problems that we had prior to the senior 1998 world championships – which are highlighted in the report – was our centre-forward performance. Nineteen year old Sean Boyd became the revelation of that tournament. His individual CF goals – through skilful back-hand shots – in the crucial matches against the USA and Greece can and should be counted not only as memorable but also among the most important in Australian men’s water polo history. They were scored at pivotal moments in those matches when we badly needed them. As such goals often do, they also had a demoralizing effect upon the opposition. Peter Soros and Gavin Woods’ overall performance was equally solid. Their quality input gave us a lot of depth and enabled us to maintain high intensity throughout every match.
These athletes were also instrumental in the team’s success in July 1997 at the U/20s world championships. There, among other teams, we had to overcome the powerful Russia, Yugoslavia and host Cuba to make it to the medals round. It was in line with our policy at the time that a number of other players who went to Cuba could also be eligible for the next junior world championships. Indeed, the accumulated experience became a major contributing factor in our Silver medal winning success in Kuwait-1999 (see ‘Australia’s Blood in the Water – Happy Australia Day!’ post).
Thank you: Back row – Benn Lees (Assistant coach), Gavin Woods, Ross Simpson (Manager), Peter Soros, Andrew Gott, Sean Boyd, Raf Sterk, James Smyth, Nick May, Peter Tresise; Middle – Christian Hoad, John Neesham, Dean Semmens, Tim Neesham; Front – Peter Hackney (Doctor) and Nick Falzon. You did Australia proud!