Grey determined for home glory

Franco Labuschagne of Grey College in action against Pearson High School from Port Elizabeth during the 2019 ITEC Grey College Water Polo tournament. Labuschagne is the captain of Grey for this season. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The 2020 ITEC U18 Grey College Water Polo tournament will be taking place this week in Bloemfontein, and the hosts, Grey College, are determined to make a statement, albeit playing in the sport in the province is a massive undertaking and challenge.

To date, Grey has not been able to win their tournament, which ranks as one of the largest and most competitive in the country. In fact, the school known for its rugby has not even made it as far as the semi-finals in the past.

Grey is the only school in the province which plays the sport, and this leads to it being very heavy on the pockets, especially of the parents, as a lot of travelling is required.

Water polo at Grey is definitely on the rise, and despite the challenges, they are able to compete with the very best in the country. They proved this last year when they started strongly, although they did fall short towards the backend of the tournament.

Director of water polo and the first team coach of Grey, David Mackenzie, told Bloemfontein Courant that he is certain they can measure themselves with the best this year.

“This week is a big highlight for our first team, and we are determined to place better than in the past. We have never been able to reach the semi-finals as yet, so that will be our first goal. The main contenders for this week will be St David’s and St Stithians College who are both ranked in the top five in the country. Our tournament is very big and people do look forward to come to Bloemfontein for it.

“Our results last week show that we are in among the best. If were play our best water polo this week, I am certain we can do better this year than in previous years.”

Mackenzie conceded that as they are the only water polo playing team in the province, it makes it a lot harder for them to compete nationally, but it is the only way they can play the sport.

“It is a little bit crippling with the fact that we are the only school in the whole of the Free State which plays water polo. A lot of our water polo is based on travelling in order to improve.

“That is something that we’ve just had to budget for. It can be very costly on parents. The parents, the boys and the school’s commitment to water polo has just been incredible.”

The first team will no doubt draw inspiration from their U14 team, which won the ITEC 14 Grey College Water Polo tournament last year when they beat St John’s in the final. It was the first time a Grey team managed to win their own tournament.

Grey face Parktown at 10:40 on Thursday in their opening match. At 18:40 in the evening, they will be up against Stirling. On Friday at 12:20 they will be playing against Reddam House in their final group match.

Group A – Affies, Kingswood, Northwood, St Davids Marista
Group B – St Peters, ITEC Invitational, St Stithians, Durban High School.
Group C – St Benedict’s, Pearson, Reddam House Helderfontein, Crawford Lonehill
Group D – Parktown, Stirling, Reddam House Umhlanga, Grey – MORGAN PIEK