A competitor in the U15 class attempts a throw over two defenders during a water polo match on Sunday

The Saskatoon Pirates, which includes athletes from Warman, Clavet, Aberdeen and Dundurn, hosted the Winter Provincials on December 9-10 at the Shaw Centre.

There were over 250 athletes, both male and female, in various age groups in the Minis U10, U13, U15, and Open categories; with athletes and teams from Estevan, Weyburn, Regina, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

As well, some club alumni players travelled from various parts of the province and country to compete in the Open class.

Water polo is a team sport similar to basketball, with nets almost as big as soccer and played in the water, not on land. So, one is swimming, not running and throwing or kicking. There is a 30-second shot clock and six players and a goalie in the water per team. There are four quarters and two referees. The ball is hard and about the size of a volleyball. It doesn’t bounce very well on land but can skip off the water when thrown with power. Caps are worn for ear protection and as a “jersey”.

It is challenging to simultaneously swim, tread water, pass and dribble, all while attempting to score goals on an opposing team’s net. Participation develops hand-eye coordination and demands high levels of physical fitness. Swimming and water polo are lifelong activities enjoyed by all ages around the world.

The Saskatoon Pirates club is growing, with 60 athletes between the ages of 6-60 years. Most are kids aged 13 to 14 years old.

There is something for everyone. For the young beginner, there is a program called ILWP (I Love Water Polo), where they learn to swim and play water polo. For the recreational player, there is Community League training, and there is intensity training for the competitive player.

The Club even offers opportunities for Adult Rec (aka beginner) and Adult Competitive Scrimmages. Most training is done at the Shaw Centre competitive pool. All are welcome to come anytime during the year, though a new season is starting in January. 

The PSO (Provincial Sport Office) is looking to grow its centers in Saskatoon and the north. They are hoping to provide a High School Excellence program along with coaching and training.

There are a lot of opportunities to travel with this sport in Canada, the US and Europe. Moreover, many Team Sask athletes have had much success with NCAA scholarships. 

That is illustrated by the path taken by the Saskatoon Head Coach Taylor Molde.

Taylor’s water polo journey began with the Weyburn Hurricanes in 2004-2010. Upon making her first national team in 2011 (Youth National Team, attending the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico) she moved to Regina to continue playing in the newly developed High School Excellence program.

She studied Mechanical Engineering and competed with the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine women’s team (NCAA top 10 ranked as a center defender).

She pursued a Master of Engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia (2017-2018).

She has competed internationally in the Pan American Games and World Championships in Puerto Rico, Australia, Russia, the United States and South Korea.

Playing water polo is a great way for those that love the water, love sport and love being on a team. It is a fast and exciting sport to watch, especially from the stands in the Shaw Centre.

From April 19-21 Saskatoon will host the Western NCL U17 Championships at the Shaw Centre. Teams from British Columbia, Alberta, Team Sask and Manitoba will be competing to be the best in the West. Several Saskatoon area athletes will be on Team Sask. This is the first time in a very long time a competition/tournament of this level will be in Saskatoon, giving an opportunity to see the sport played at a high level.