Queensland has a proud history of developing and nurturing water polo talent that has gone on to represent the Aussie Stingers and Aussie Sharks and achieve success at the highest level of international competition. There is also a strong tradition in providing opportunity for athletes of all ages to reach their potential through our competitions, development programs, pathway and the work of our dedicated coaches and volunteers.

In order to ensure that this tradition and culture continues to grow, Water Polo Queensland (WPQ) is pleased to have led an extensive review and consultation process over the past seven months to develop and implement a new and aligned performance and pathways model in Queensland for 2019 & 2020. This will be delivered in partnership with Water Polo Australia (WPA) and the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS).

Following discussions in early January with WPA, QAS and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), it was recognised that a new approach was required to support high-performance outcomes that would maximise the use of the available financial resources and ensure an aligned, sustainable and effective daily training environment and pathway for aspiring and elite athletes in Queensland. Furthermore, it was identified that with the Australian Water Polo League (AWL) playing an important role in the overall high-performance pathways, immediate consideration should also be given to the implementation of a new model for Queensland’s representation in this competition for the next two seasons.

Throughout these discussions, it was indicated that the current high-performance funding levels enjoyed by Water Polo had come under review, and that, by demonstrating through the above process that the sport has identified issues with its current environment and taken steps to address these, favourable consideration for any future funding would be ensured. Both WPA and WPQ were implored to act as to do nothing and retain the status quo would result in an immediate review and reduction of current funding levels effective from the 2018/19 financial year.

The meeting resolved that WPQ lead a consultation process with the two current AWL clubs, Brisbane Barracudas and Queensland Breakers, that would outline the following and with a view to commence implementation from 1st July 2018:

  1. Current High-Performance environment and challenges
  2. Proposed Performance & Pathways model
  3. AWL proposal for 2019 & 2020 seasons

Today’s announcement means that the Queensland high-performance water polo program will continue with the significant financial support of the QAS for the next two years and the Queensland Breakers and Brisbane Barracudas participation in the 2019-2020 AWL seasons will be suspended, replaced by a new single Queensland entity. All stakeholders are committed to working towards the final governance and operating models over the coming months.

In any reform process, there will always be strong opinions and views expressed and in many cases disagreement about the best way forward. This process was not immune to these challenges, however the model that has been developed and the decisions that have been taken have all been made in the best interests of the sport, to ensure the best training and competition environments for our Queensland athletes, and to protect the significant financial resources made available to water polo through the support of the QAS.

WPQ looks forward to working with all stakeholders in the implementation and delivery of the new performance and pathways model, and the support from the water polo community for the new Queensland AWL entity.