Thanks to the increasingly sunny weather, the passion in players’ eyes and their enthusiasm for playing the atmosphere of the 17th FINA World Masters Championships water polo tournament in Hajós Alfréd Swimming Complex is amazing. There are some extraordinary teams in the field, Australia’s Pink Pointers International team is one of them.
Australian women’s team Pink Pointers is quite a conspicuous one. They applied for the 50+ category but in the end they enter the World Masters Championships in the collective 50-55-60+ age group and they have won both of their matches so far. The first day they defeated the American Menlo Park 11-1, then on Tuesday they triumphed against the Canadian Calgary PS.
Photo: Máté Balogh/Bp2017
Uniform T-shirts, uniform apparel, pink T-shirts for fans and family so wherever they go on Margaret Island they are always greeted with a smile, a snap or a hat tip.
„We all used to play water polo as teenagers, but in totally different clubs. We came together like this in our 50s, we established the club in Perth. The primary motivation was our intention to live an active lifestyle and as our children had grown up, we had more time to do so. Where does the name Pink Pointers come from? I am sure you have heard about the small size white sharks living by the coasts (white pointer sharks). Well, as we are women, we wanted to find a matching name hence Pink Pointer Sharks. It sounds girly” – summarised a member of the team, Susan Skillen.
„By now some of us are above the age of 60 but we wish to keep on playing as long as life allows us to do so. We don’t want to grow old sitting in front of the box all day. We live an active life, we regularly swim. Some of us are divorced or single but we enjoy each other’s company greatly. Not to mention the fact that it involves a lot of travelling and we love it so much. It is great to see places outside Australia and Europe is definitely a wonderful place to visit. Currently we are spending a month away from home and it is definitely a special thing in our retirement years” – added player no. 7, who is by the way the spokeswoman as well as the general servant of the team.
They have attended five major international events since 2008, this is the first time they visit Hungary with this team.
„This is our first time here and I must say this swimming complex is fantastic. In the US there are about 6-7 pools in a state but here there are 3 in one place which is a very special situation and a great privilege for Hungarians. We love history, at home we have a 200-year perspective but when we come here we see marks of 1000 years in this city. Nothing compares to it, Budapest is rich in historical heritage” – said Susan adding that the point for them is not victory but playing great matches, enjoying water polo and living the moment. Still they want to stay competitive, that is why they have been training a lot with Perth Cockatoos men’s team in the past few months.
Tom Hoad, legendary Australian water polo player, director of the home federation, President of the Organising Committee of the 1998 World Championships in Perth, who participated in 4 Olympics as a player and in 4 more as the head coach of the national team, watched the first part of the Australian ladies’ second match.
„I take my hat off to the team, they put colour inside this extended field. This event is great; I must admit I was absolutely amazed by the organisation of the elite World Championships. I attended the event as a FINA guest, the new arena is fantastic and so it the atmosphere on Margaret Island. I have first-hand experience from both World Championships in Perth and I can tell you the World Championships in Budapest were incredible” – said Tom Hoad and mentioned that he keeps contact with former iconic players from Hungary, especially Kálmán Markovits, a key figure from a legendary era of Hungarian water polo.
After Tuesday power relations have become more obvious. After sweeping the floor (17-1) on the first day Hungarian team Budakalász SC 30+ played a rather tough match against American team Bay Area Masters. Although Hungarians started off strong, in the fourth quarter Americans were leading 6-4 so the Magyar players had to pull themselves together. They managed to do so, ending in a 6-6 draw.
„This match was really hard compared to the previous one yesterday. We knew the American team would be really good, they are quite fit and fast. We needed to catch up with their pace, we started off quite well, then there was a weaker period for us and they scored 4 goals in a line. We managed to come back and in the end we could score some goals. I am having a wonderful time spent together, they are my friends really. Margaret Island is an awesome environment for this event, everyone enjoys the tournament a lot” – said Eszter Győri following a presumably valuable draw.
Concerning group matches, Russian team Kirishi defeated the American team featuring Brenda Villa confidently.