LOCAL water polo continues to face issues with funding, despite the recent success the sport has had at the regional level.
Over the weekend, the team was forced to cut travel plans short at the CCCAN Championships in Bridgetown, Barbados, where they missed an opportunity to compete for the gold medal.
But, with the bronze, they were still able to qualify for the 2020 UANA Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships.
Due to insufficient funds, the team did not secure tickets for travel approximately two weeks before the competition was set to begin in Barbados.
As a cost-cutting measure, water polo organisers scheduled an early exit from the tournament Sunday morning, which would have given the team ample opportunity to qualify for the Pan Am with wins in the earlier rounds but forced a withdrawal prior to the gold medal match on Sunday evening.
Funding for the trip was provided by the team and members of the water polo community who struggled to reach their fund-raising goals. Water Polo does receive funding directly from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture but falls under the authority of Bahamas Aquatics - along with swimming.
Members of the local water polo community have called for greater transparency and balance to support both disciplines equally.
The Bahamas 23-member swim team captured 27 medals at CCCAN Swimming Championships hosted June 28 - July 2, also in Barbados.
Bahamas Aquatics President, Algernon Cargill, issued a statement in an attempt to clarify his organisation’s role in the planning process for Water Polo’s CCCAN trip.
“Water Polo parents made their own travel plans and obviously erred in planning. To blame anyone other than themselves is irresponsible. Bahamas Aquatics made a decision jointly with our Water Polo leaders to bypass CCCAN Water Polo and focus our limited funding on Pan Am Juniors that will cost $40,000 plus,” Cargill said in a statement, “At the last minute the parents agreed they wanted their children to go to CCCAN and undertook to raise the required funding and would make their own travel plans. Yes, we did seek Financial support from many quarters and while these were largely unsuccessful, it had absolutely nothing to do with the travel plans for CCCAN Water Polo. Water Polo’s fundraising fell short and Bahamas Aquatics contributed $4000 to their cause and was never involved in any planning or airline tickets. To now blame the Government or Bahamas Aquatics is irresponsible, wreckless, and malicious.”
The 2019 UANA Pan American Youth Water Polo Championships will be held in Trinidad and Tobago, August 14-24. The Bahamas qualified for the event with a silver medal finish at the 2018 CCCAN tournament.
The 2020 UANA Pan American Youth Polo Water Polo Championships will take place in Edmonton, Canada.
A top five finish at the Youth Pan Ams would qualify the team for Junior World Championships (the equivalent of the Olympics for youth sports) in 2020.
Local Water Polo has taken to crowdfunding with the establishment of a GoFundMe account - “Bahamas Water Polo going for World Championships”
To date, they have raised $2325 toward their $60,000 goal.
Persons wishing to donate the sports’ cause can do so at: https://www.gofundme.com/bahamas-water-polo-going-for-world-championships?fbclid=IwAR2EiGcqM2-Qs0zy_iR9OOcKmwrXwiZGq1tAKcCNooEZe6QCQ3Vy77bNf9g
Team Bahamas continues to establish its position as a regional powerhouse in and this past spring, captured three medals at the CARIFTA level for the second consecutive year. The Bahamas took gold in the U16 Boys, silver in the U14 Co-Ed, and bronze in the U19 Boys at the event in Barbados.
At the 2018 CARIFTA Championships in Jamaica, team Bahamas achieved its top regional water polo feat to date with a trio of gold medals.
Laszlo Borbely serves as the national team head coach previously told the Tribune that funding continues to be the greatest hindrance to the programme.
“We are establishing Water Polo life and this programme has grown a tremendous amount over the years. We are achieving great success, the players are getting new opportunities and exposure, we are creating new relationships with countries and other programmes all over the world but to keep achieving we need the programme to expand and that, of course, will require greater funding,” he said, “I would like for more of corporate Bahamas to really come on board, to see the vision and see the marketability. As these teams continue to qualify and travel to more and more events of higher stature it will take funding to do so and to have them prepared to continue this success.”
In just over a three month span in 2018, the Mantas Water Polo Club completed Borbeley’s list of tasks in sequential order.
In addition to the regional triumphs, several Mantas players also secured roster spots with a United States-based team on their path to the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics.
In a history making move for Bahamian water polo, Saequan Miller, a graduate of CR Walker, signed his letter of intent to join the Salem University Tigers and recently completed his freshman season with the programme.