The South African women’s national water polo team has participated in four FINA World Masters Championships so far, and their most memorable results were two 15th placements in 2011 and in 2013. Their main goal is to gain experience in Alfréd Hajós Swimming Stadium.
Beautiful beaches, sunshine, palm trees…One would think that South Africa is the land of acquatic sports, but that is not completely true. Water polo is definitely an exception, since this sport is played mainly by enthuastic amateurs, with less notable results…
Regarding the women’s national team, their first memorable year in the international stage was 2009, when they took part in the FINA World Championships in Rome – for the first time in their history. They did not have to play under pressure, of course, and they lost all their matches by a large margin: they were defeated by Australia (23-2), Canada (20-5) and New Zealand (12-5) as well.
In the semi final for 13-16 places they went down against Brazil (16-2), and then in the match for the 15th place against Uzbekistan (16-9), so they finished last.
Two years later in Shanghai they started with two heavy defeats (5-22 vs China, 2-18 vs Russia), but then they claimed their historic first point at the FINA World Championships, tying with Cuba (9-9). They still finished in last place of their group due to their worse goal difference, but in the playoff they were beaten by Brazil only 9-8, which showed their improvement after the 2009 competition. What’s more, they won the match for the 15th place against Uzbekistan! (6-5)
They claimed the same placement at the 2013 FINA World in Barcelona, but this time they did not have any chance to play some tight games in the group phase. They were defeated by China (17-2), New Zealand (13-7) and Australia (16-1). At that event the 13-16 playoff was not held, so they finished in 15th place thanks to their goal difference (-36 vs -59 of Uzbekistan).
The South Africans qualified successfully for the 2015 FINA World as well, but they suffered five heavy defeats in the event. They were beaten by the Netherlands (22-1), Australia (19-1) and Greece (20-4) in the group stage, followed by two other losses against New Zealand (11-3) and Japan (19-1), so they finished in last place.
South Africa participated in the qualifiers of the 2009 and the 2010 edition of the World League (they lost all their matches), but they have not taken part in the competition since then.
Do the South Africans have a real chance to step forward in the near future? Not really, because of the amateur status of water polo in the country, and the fact that the Republic of South Africa is far away from the traditional water polo nations, which means they can hardly find any training partners in their continent.
The South African women’s national team will play against New Zealand, Spain and the USA in the group stage of the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest.
THE JAPANESE WOMEN’S TEAM AT THE FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
2009: 16th place
2011: 15th place
2013: 15th place
2015: 16th place