Water Polo tour to beautiful Montenegro and Croatia – August 2016
St Stithians Girls’ College water polo team finished the 2015/2016 season with a bronze medal at the Reef Cup, silver medals at the Old Petrians National tournament and the National Aquatics Tournament, and gold at the Old Mutual tournament. It was now time for coach, Pierre le Roux’s next plan for our school; to take girls’ polo up a level, and what better way than to travel to one of the most beautiful regions of the world and home to Olympic water polo champions for the past 20 years. The tour proposal was approved; the fundraising plan was designed so that no girl selected was left behind and the training began…
Revolutionary thinking by SAs Mens’ Captain, (most capped South African Player & newly appointed MIC for water polo, Mr Pierre le Roux), convinced the school’s executive that for the development of water polo in the girls’ school it was imperative to take promising juniors as well as his senior squad on tour. And so a touring side consisting of 13 grade 8s, 5 grade 9s, 7 grade 10s, 8 grade 11s and captain in matric was formed. With a young group this size and Mr le Roux’s development plan for coaches too, 3 coaches and 2 managers were asked to accompany the tour party. Girls were assigned to a coach or manager as father or mother in loco parentis for the duration of the tour, a system that proved to be a very manageable way of looking after 34 teenage girls in Europe.
On Saturday 6 August, the day after breakup day, we departed South Africa for Dubrovnik, Croatia via Madrid, caught a bus through to the beach resort town of Herceg Novi in the picturesque mountainous country of Montenegro. After a magnificent 7 nights in Montenegro at the 4 star Hunguest Hotel, Sun Resort, we took a sightseeing day trip to Dubrovnik. We continued our bus trip via the country of Bosnia to Split, Croatia where we would train for a further 8 nights and stay in the student hostel in Split before flying back to South Africa via Madrid again on Monday evening 22 August.
Jadran Club Training
Training in Montenegro was at the stunning Jadran club facility, located next to the yacht club, jutting out into the Adriatic sea and a short walk from our waterfront hotel. National Montenegrin coach, Vladimir Gojkovik, set up our training programme with Petar Radanović the assistant coach at Jadran, as he was in Rio for the Olympic Games. A day’s programme consisted of a half hour warm up in the gym, a 2-hour session of skills in the morning, lunch and free time, followed by a 2 hour session of sparring games against Jadran club boys and also a Russian ladies club side that was also training in Montenegro that week. If that wasn’t enough, our girls also found the time to play polo with the locals in the sea pools!
Herceg Novi, Perast & Kotor - Montenegro
Whilst in Herceg Novi we were able to explore the old city on the hill, enjoy a magnificent boat trip with Mario to the Blue Grotto. Do some cliff jumping into the sea at a neglected submarine U-boat pen built during the German occupation in World War II and used by the former Yugoslavian army for 50 years as tunnels to hide in during the period of communism. Visit a centuries-old church on a man-made island off the ancient town of Perast that was built up by constant heaping of stones starting from 1452 and continuing to the present. We also explored the old fortified medieval town of Kotor with its winding streets and squares situated in a bay near the limestone cliffs of Mount Lovćen.
Dubrovnik - Croatia
One of the highlights of the sightseeing part of visiting this beautiful part of the world was our day trip to Dubrovnik. We signed up for a walking tour of the famous city wall which afforded us the opportunity to take magnificent postcard pictures of this city, made famous more recently by its inclusion in the Game of Thrones series. A seafood lunch or more of the delicious ice cream and pizza was the order of the day.
Split - Croatia
In Split we got to navigate our way around the city via the excellent public transport system, hopping on and off bus No. 17 with our bus passes to explore: the Old City built by Diocletian the last Roman Emperor to persecute the Christians; the Mall; our favourite beaches and markets and of course to get to our two venues for training and games. From being spoilt for choice at the hotel buffet in Montenegro, we now had the freedom of the city to choose where to eat out for lunch and dinner in Split and manage our daily budgets of Croatian Kuna. Juniors will remember watching the final of the Rio Olympic games between the dominant Serbia and Croatia from the hostel foyer at the end of our tour.
Club Pösk & Club Bura
Training intensified in Split and there was a marked improvement in play after a hard week at Club Jadran. The group split into juniors and seniors alternating and sharing the pool space at the two clubs, Club Pösk and Bura. Morning sessions were held with their club coaches who worked on skills and drills especially with our juniors and the afternoon sessions consisted of games against the local Club Bura girls’ side and the Club Pösk boys’ sides. We became a popular side to play against during their summer holidays and at one stage there were 17 boys lined up on the bench waiting to play our senior team! Our Junior girls bonded beautifully with the Club Bura girls who offered to show our team the Old City one night and go for a few meals together after training.
Fundraising & Thank yous
None of this would have been possible without the outstanding effort by all of our parent supporters led by Michelle de Souza, Chantal Hinrichs and Julie Galatis who also produced the magnificent tour brochure. Diapolo made the brand new training and match costumes which looked magnificent. A well supported wine tasting dinner and auction, a water polo Discovery night fun run, referee training, private sponsorships and a lot of hard work by everyone but in particular, Mr le Roux, who dealt with all of the administrative matters such as reservations, visa documentation, flights & foreign exchange to make this 1st ever St Stithians Girls’ College water polo tour such an enormous success that parents and girls would like to repeat this again soon! Under the co-ordination of Bruno Fernandes, our parent body were also able to enjoy their own wonderful tour to Montenegro and Croatia and watch their girls in the evening at the game practices. Thank you to our coaches Nicola Partridge (Alumnus), David Arendse (Alumnus), Demi-Rae Didloff and Mr Pierre le Roux.
Fabulous memories made forever!
by Karen Prinsloo