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Tuesday, 14 January 2014
This week, the Girls’ Division has been playing host to Maltese water polo prodigy Michela Zammit.
Water polo is a popular sport in Malta, but there is only provision for boys. Michela has therefore learned to play in the boys’ team. 2,000 miles away, here at Bolton School, Thea Simpson from Year 8 is in a similar situation: she plays with the Boys’ Division team.
It was this parallel that first brought the girls together, and instigated Michela’s visit to Bolton School. Since her arrival, Michela has joined Girls’ Division lessons at Thea’s side, and the two met up after school for bowling. However, it is in the pool that they have bonded the most. Michela has joined Thea’s water polo practices, and the two have thoroughly enjoyed having some female company in the water!
Their mutual love for the sport has cemented their friendship, and the two girls are now getting along swimmingly.
Despite being in Year 7 and only starting to play two years ago, Michela already has plans to one day play professionally. As a result, her skill level is above her age-group thanks to her dedication and strict training schedule. At home she trains twice daily, swimming for an hour before school and playing water polo in the afternoon. Therefore as well as joining Thea and the U13 team, Michela has trained with the older Boys’ Division teams. She held her own in the pool with the boys’ U16 and U18 teams!
It was a similar story when Michela and her parents visited the water polo facilities in Tyldesley: she joined the Tyldesley U16 girls and found that their skills were an even match despite the age difference. She also trained with teams in Liverpool and Manchester. She has particularly enjoyed these sessions playing with local girls’ teams, as before her trip to the UK, Michela had never played or trained with an all-girl team. She was amazed to discover that the sport was so popular with girls. There was just one small problem from her mother’s point of view: “She wants to stay here now!”
However, Michela’s trip is due to come to an end on Thursday. She is particularly disappointed, as Thea’s next training session is on Thursday morning and she will have to miss it in order to make her flight.
It was therefore a sad moment at the end of this morning’s training session, as this will be the last time the two will be in the pool together – on this trip, at least. The girls are planning to stay in touch, and have been discussing the possibility of Thea going out to Malta in the summer so that they can play water polo together again.
As Thea is currently a member of the regional water polo squad, this would also be an excellent opportunity for her to advance her skills further.
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