#TuksSport: The TuksWaterpolo women’s team is going for gold

Posted on December 08, 2023

Third-time lucky is what the TuksWaterpolo women’s team will be hoping for when they dive in to play Maties' second stringers at the 2023 USSA Water polo Championships in Gqeberha. 

Tuks lost to Maties in the final in the previous two USSA tournament editions. The captain of Tuks, Maxine Hannan, is quite confident that the result might be different if they play Maties in the final again. Her confidence sprouts from the experience she and her teammates gained by playing international water polo. Seven Tuks players represented South Africa this season.

"We had Shakira January and Esihle Zondo playing at the World Champs. Tia Caswell and I competed in international beach water polo. Kiara Schutte, Jenna Weppelman, Oluchi McMurray, and coach Anele Matukane were all part of the USSA side at the FISU World University Games. Tia and Esihle represented South Africa's under-20 team at the Junior World Champs," Hannan explains.

"We're really excited about the tournament ahead. If it's any year, it's this year to bring back the gold. We have been training hard and gelling nicely as a team. Our team dynamic is where we draw our strength from. A team that gets along and has fun outside the pool is a team that connects effortlessly in the pool."

Hannon, who is pursuing her Master's in Human Physiology, describes herself as a ''water baby". 

"I started off by swimming, but I found it to be a bit boring. I love to chase after a ball with a specific purpose. I am also a team player. One of my best qualities as a water polo player is my fitness. I also bring a lot of positivity to any team I play for."

According to January, water polo is the ultimate sport. 

"There is no respite once you are in the water. You are treading water all the time to keep your head above water. At the same time, you have to 'shoot' with your arms. Still, that is not all. You are in a continuous battle against opponents for possession of the ball. Things can get rough. There is a lot of grabbing, pulling, and kicking. While this continues, you and your teammates have to strategize how you will score goals. Needless to say, you are physically and mentally drained at the end of a game."

Casswell, a second-year medical student, loves the unity that comes with playing water polo.

"You are never playing for yourself. It is always about the team. You can do many little things to make a difference in the water, even without scoring a goal. Blocking the ball at a crucial time can make the difference between winning and losing. That is what I love about the game."

Casswell considers herself a versatile player with a strong arm, so her passing is accurate.

"I can play about every position. Just don't let me play goalkeeper. I can't keep the ball from hitting the back of the net for my life."

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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