By Seth Harvey
One month on from winning the Bristol & West U13 tournament in our home pool, Plymouth Life Centre, myself and the other members of the U13s travelled to Manchester in confident mood.
16 teams entered from around the country these were broken into 4 groups with 4 teams in each group.
Water polo matches are generally played over 4 quarters but due to the number of entries in this tournament each match was played with 2 halves of 7 minutes.
In our first couple of games we had a very strong start, with no goals going in against us; our defense was like an impenetrable wall, and our strikers scored goal after goal. We went on to win our group by beating Bolton 9-0, Chester 11-0 and Northampton 5-3. After the close match against Northampton we had a long break.
Next came the quarter finals, where we were to take on an unknown team, St. Ambrose. This ended up being another close match, with us eventually winning 8-5. Now the finals were looking even more possible, the excitement levels were growing; there were just 4 teams left out of the original 16. We next faced Sedgefield, a team who had stormed through the group stage winning all their matches, one of them 15-0. This team was going to be tough! For the first time in the whole tournament we were losing, when the half-time whistle went we trailed 3-2. This was a tougher match than it needed to be, but after a short break and a restructure by the coach, we were back on form. We went on to achieve the final score 9-4.
We were now in the finals, where we faced a familiar opposition, Cheltenham, the team we beat in the final of the Bristol & West tournament only a month ago. Cheltenham had a score to settle, as they were previously deemed the best U13 team in the country. We were not going to let them regain that crown, and with the last match behind us we were stronger and played as a team united, passing to each other with skill and precision, with the score 4-0 and 2 and a half minutes left of the second half, the coach gave the subs the opportunity to show him what they had, they may have been seen as the weaker players on the team before the tournament but now they were holding their own, scoring another goal and with a last second goal going in against us we were the winners, winning 5-1.
We can now call ourselves the best U13’s water polo team in the country!