Boys Help ESSA Team Win International Water Polo Trophy
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
A quartet of Bolton School Sixth Form pupils travelled out to Malta for the Exiles International Invitation Tournament, a water polo competition organised by the Aquatic Sport Association (ASA) of Malta.
School Vice Captain Lewis Daly was named the English Schools Swimming Association (ESSA) team captain for the tournament. Bolton School pupils Tom Prayle, Sam Richards and Aaron Winstanley, the School’s senior water polo captain this year, were also on the ESSA squad, and the School water polo coach Andy McGinty was one of their coaches.
Two South African teams, Dutch national champions Widex GZC Donk, and a Malta representative side were the other competitors: all very strong teams, which provided the ESSA players with a real challenge.
The first match against the South Africa 1st Team started slow, with the ESSA squad 6-4 down by the end of the second quarter. However, they managed to pull the score back to end the match 9-8, with Lewis and Aaron responsible for two goals each to help bring the score up. Aaron shone once again in the match against the South Africa 2nd Team, scoring an incredible pair of goals within the first minute of play! He went on to score a further three, with Lewis also contributing two goals to the tally. This made for an impressive win with a score of 19-7.
Playing against the national champions of the Netherlands, Widex GZC Donk, Aaron continued his incredible scoring streak with another hat trick, and Tom also contributed a goal. The ESSA side won their match 9-5, giving them the maximum amount of points as they headed into the final.
The ESSA side faced Malta in the tournament final. The two teams were at this point in joint first place, with three wins and maximum points each, thus making this last match all the more dramatic.
Nonetheless, the ESSA team remained calm and took an early lead of 3-2 in the first quarter, with Lewis contributing one of those goals. He followed this with a further two in the second quarter, helping his team to increase their lead to 9-3. As play moved into the third quarter, Aaron scored his first for the afternoon, and followed this up with another pair of goals in the final quarter. Tom also hit the target in the last quarter, helping his teammates to further dominate the match.
The final score was an amazing 19-8 to ESSA team, winning them the tournament.
Lewis received the cup from Exiles club president Andrew Paris on behalf of the ESSA team, and all team members received medals for their efforts.
Speaking about their success, Lewis said, “What an absolutely amazing experience to beat Malta 19-8 in the final game to win the competition. The coaching staff – Andy McGinty, Sean King and Colin Walsh – have been totally unreal as well and without them we wouldn’t have been where we are today. It’s been a great team effort, a huge achievement and it’s an unreal feeling to have won every game and been crowned champions.”
Aaron, who was the ESSA Team’s top goal scorer with 13 goals over the course of the tournament, also added, “This tournament has been a great privilege to play in. It’s been fantastic being away with this bunch of players and it’s an amazing feeling to know we’ll be going home as champions. We were clinical in attack and to score 19 goals against Malta in their own pool was phenomenal. Our time in Malta has been absolutely fantastic and to win four games in a row is an amazing feeling. It’s simply been brilliant.”
Bolton School was the only school to contribute more than one pupil to the ESSA squad for the Exiles International Tournament. The School’s has a strong water polo tradition both with current pupils and alumni. The U14, U16 and U18 teams managed the hat-trick this year, winning in all three age groups at the English Schools’ National Championships. Pupils recently took part in a reunion water polo match featuring a number of alumni who are full internationals: Simon Baker, Ed Grundy, Andy Crawford and Kate Teasdale. Old Boy Ed Scott, who captained the England team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and was part of the 2012 Olympics Great Britain water polo team, is another of the School’s most successful water polo players.