The World Aquatics Masters Championships are being staged in Kyushu with water polo being contested in Kumamoto. For one men’s team it is more than just playing fellow septuagenarians in a pool.
Australia’s Perth Cockatoos is a typical masters water polo team and success has not gone to its head, even though the team has won the past two 70+ men’s competitions. Now all over 75 and one member 80, the team is doing more for its home town than winning medals.
The team hails from Perth, Western Australia and the city is twinned with Kagoshima, a nearby city to Kumamoto.
On the first day in Kumamoto, the group of 23 people took the bullet train to Kagoshima where it was feted by the Deputy Mayor and other city dignitaries at a special luncheon and then taken on a tour, fostering international relations.
The visit was organised by Cockatoos goalkeeper Garry Dunne (Above), who was a former Director of the City of Perth. The club presented the city with a signed water polo ball on a plinth, marking the occasion.
The Cockatoos are regular visitors to the masters championships with most having competed from the early 2000s and played host in 2008. There are three men’s teams from Perth in the 36-team championship.
Mr Dunne said: “Our general feeling was it was more of a sharing of cultures and respect for each others’ value, not just a gathering of old polo players and the city.”
The Cockatoos are playing in a younger age group as there are fewer teams of their age and they wished to be competing in the exclusive 75+ group, which is not on the calendar this year.
Ironically, the opening match of the tournament was played between the Cockatoos and United States of America team Blue Thunder in a rematch of the 2019 gold-medal final in Gwangju, Korea. The Cockatoos, with a full bench of 15, played the depleted Thunder team, winning 13-1.
There are 30 men's and five women's teams competing in Kumamoto and competition flows until Friday.
The ball and the inscription presented to the Deputy Mayor of Kagoshima.
Incidentally, the artistic swimming masters competition is being staged in Kagoshima.