Country contest set to make a splash in town

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
Brad Pawlenko at the 2018 WA Country Championships.
Camera IconBrad Pawlenko at the 2018 WA Country Championships. Credit: Alissa French

The biggest names in country water polo are set to descend on the South Hedland Aquatic Centre for the WA Country Championships this weekend.

It will mark the first time in more than a decade that Hedland has seen the tournament in town, sparking a call for community members to get down to support the local teams taking part.

Hedland Water Polo Association president Brad Pawlenko said he was ecstatic to see the Country Champs return to Hedland and was ready to show off how the sport has grown in Hedland in recent years.

“We have been keen to host the WA State Country Water Polo Championships for a long time, so to be chosen to host is an achievement we’re proud of,” he said.

“Hosting this event is a fantastic chance for our association to showcase our facilities and the town and importantly, showcase our sport to spectators with high quality water polo games.

“We are really keen to make this one of the best State tournaments held in a long time, and hope to see as many locals as possible come down and support the Hedland teams in their quest to win a title.”

Women’s and men’s teams from Bunbury, Peel, Geraldton and Karratha will be attending the tournament.

The men’s A squad will be seeking to improve on their third place in last year’s country champs, with a mix of polo stars from the three local teams.

Darren Marlow, Regan Kubala and Steve Smirk are just a few of the familiar faces in the side.

All three played in last year’s team and despite coming third posted the highest goal tally in the tournament.

It’s been a long wait to have the championships back in Hedland, with uncertainty at South Hedland Aquatic Centre resulting in a planned return in 2018 relinquished, much to the dismay of the Hedland water polo community.

A steady increase in the player count in Hedland through flipper ball and the honour of receiving the club of the year title at the 2019 Hedland Sport Awards has catapulted the game to the forefront of the town’s sporting agenda.

The action starts at 2pm on Friday, so come on down to cheer on the Hedland teams.

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