The International Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Tournament, also known as the ‘Rugby 7s of aquatics’, is taking over Repulse Bay on Sunday as part of the Hong Kong Beach Festival. With contenders flying in from across Asia, this tournament is set to be packed with hot bods and adrenaline pumping competition. What does it take for a tournament win? We get the lowdown on how to handle open ocean play and three decades of Water Polo passion from Hong Kong based tournament participant, Adam Phua.
For starters: what is water polo?
Water polo is a fast and exciting sport which requires tremendous swimming ability, stamina, coordination and the ability to work as a team. Traditionally, there are two teams of seven and the object of the game is to throw a Rugby like ball into the other teams’ net – all set in a swimming pool. For this tournament, the format is different of course.
What inspired you to start playing?
I started playing almost 30 years ago, back in school. A friend introduced me to water polo as a fun way to add variety to swimming. I immediately got hooked and played all through school and university. After university, I helped coach kids at my alma mater. After relocating to Hong Kong I continued to play with the Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Association. Today, HKBWP has not only sustained my love for the sport, but has given me the opportunity to meet an incredibly diverse group of people, who have become firm friends and provide a vibrant social aspect to the team. The opportunity to travel to water polo tournaments as well as open water swimming events in various countries as a team is truly a unique and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
How is this tournament different to others?
Water polo tournaments are generally held in swimming pools. The Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Association takes the intensity up a notch by moving the matches to Repulse Bay, where spectators can swim up close and watch the action. Waves and drifting currents make playing in the tournament more challenging. Instead of the conventional seven-on-seven game, this tournament adopts a four-on-four format and the ‘court’ size is reduced to 10m x 15m.
Why is water polo so intense?
Beach water polo is the equivalent of rugby 7s and beach rugby 5s. The matches are shorter and faster with fewer players and more scoring opportunities. It is a constant action sport designed for spectator enjoyment. You don’t need to understand the technical rules to appreciate the non-stop movement, amazing skills and incredible physical capabilities of the players.
What does it take to play? Is it for everyone?
Players either start as swimmers or just go into water polo immediately. Water polo can be high impact and requires focus on swimming and following the game and the ball, so good swimming and strong athletic skills are a must. In fact, it was rated as one of the three most powerful and challenging games in sports. People will enjoy water polo if they enjoy: ball games, athletic games, and social sports.
Who will be competing in the tournament this year?
This tournament is an international event and has attracted teams from Macau, Hungary, Japan, Singapore, Macau, India, Philippines, China and Hong Kong. Some participants are even current and ex- national players. Most of the players are young expats from all over the world including Germany, Italy, Hungarian, Singapore, USA, UK, Macau, China, and Hong Kong.
Water polo is a sport for all ages. Kids start from under 10 years; and seniors over 60 years play at international masters tournaments. For this particular tournament, there will be both Open Team Player options for those 18 years old and above, and Junior Team Player options for those 18 years old and below. Our own team has players up to 50-years, old and the Shanghai masters team will have some close to 60.
I’m officially interested in signing up – where can I get more information?
If it’s not too late, come along and watch beach water polo in action at the Hong Kong Beach Festival, Sunday October 23 at Repulse Bay. You can also visit Hong Kong Beach Water Polo’s Facebook Page for more information otherwise.