Coaches, athletes and officials converged on Adelaide for the Canoe Polo national training camp.
At the end of January canoe polo athletes from all across Australia converged on Adelaide for the national training camp. This was an opportunity for everyone to develop their canoe polo skills, learn about how to train for the sport and meet other players. The event was a great success; it was well attended, had an awesome atmosphere and all participants improved their skills greatly.
The training camp is part of the Australian Canoe Polo Technical Committee's development program. ACPTC organises a training camp for the development of athletes, coaches and officials each January. The aim of the camp is to cultivate canoe polo across the country by getting everyone together and sharing experiences and information about the game. This means not only developing athlete's personal canoe polo abilities, but also the development of coaches and officials.
The 2013 training camp was very well attended with 32 athletes, 7 coaches and 3 officials present. It really was a true Australian event with participants coming from all over the country; most from the usual places such as Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. However, the standout was one 18 year old girl from Alice Springs who drove for 20 hours to attend the camp! There was also a wide range of ages, from very small juniors to those in the masters category, with numerous reasons for attending; some players had the goal of making the national team, whilst others just wanted to improve their game so they could enjoy social club level competition. The camp was designed to cater for all.
For athletes attending the training camp it was a chance to develop their skills so they could achieve whatever goals they happened to be pursuing. The coaches did a superb job teaching the athletes skills such as ball throwing, kayak control and technical knowledge of the game, including offensive and defensive tactics. Demelza Wall, a junior athlete from Perth, described her experience;
"it was a lot of fun and we all improved so much. It was awesome to meet the Australian women's team and play both with and against them. We definitely got to learn from the best! There was a really great atmosphere at the camp and everybody was really friendly and encouraging. It was great to meet other kids playing polo and make some new friends. Overall it was a really great experience!"
In turn the Australian senior men's team coach Duncan Cochrane passed on his years of knowledge to the next generation of coaches. This setup worked very well with everyone being able to gain from the vast amount of information the Australian canoe polo community holds.
One of the highlights for many of the athletes was a talk given by London Olympic track cyclist Matt Glaetzer. Matt talked about his experiences as an elite athlete, gave some very helpful insights into what it takes to reach this level and also offered some useful advice about training, nutrition and competition tactics. Track cycling is a very different sport to canoe polo, however Matt was able to engage the camp participants well and many of them were able to gain new and helpful knowledge. Closer to home, Australian canoe polo's own Alisa Enting-Hawke shared her experience as an elite canoe polo athlete, and more specifically discussed her 2012 World Championship campaign (including showing off a very shinny bronze medal!). Ailsa did an excellent job at inspiring the next generation of young Australians taking on the canoe polo world and her presentation was also a good link between elite level canoe polo and the rest of the community.
I am happy to say that this year's training camp was a success. Logistically, it came together superbly, however the real focus was on the learning and here I believe that everyone was able to walk away from the three days as either an improved player, coach or official. Next year's training camp is already in the early stages of organisation and I encourage everyone to attend. Look out for information about it in the usual communication channels later this year.