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A podium finish at the Art Deco Tournament 'a sign of things to come'

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The team, named "Little boy mu" came third in the open C grade - a victory made even sweeter after a 2:1 win over adult team "Omicron" which included their two coaches Jonathan Brookes and Brendon Godwin.

The tournament, organised by Canoe Polo Hawke’s Bay, saw teams from around the country descend on Mitre 10 Park Hawke’s Bay.

Mr Brookes says it was a great weekend for the boys with some "fantastic" polo played.

Since he stepped in as coach seven years ago, the teams have grown in confidence and ability, with a steady stream of students, either familiar with the sport, or wanting to give it a go, taking part.

He believes the key to their success has been in their focus on fostering a team environment and encouraging early interest in the sport.

"It’s important that players understand canoe polo is an absolute team sport and that they work on their strengths and weaknesses together.

"It really is about understanding how you fit with everybody else in the team, and how they fit with you, so a mantra that we have is: ‘It's the team that wins or the team that doesn't’."

They have had a number of boys over the years who have gone on to play in the school’s senior boys’ team and represent the region and New Zealand.

"We've got some fantastic players and a really positive team spirit, so we’ve got a reasonable opportunity to do well."

Mr Brookes anticipates a positive few years for the sport at the school, on the back of a number of accolades for its players and teams.

"Karamu has been very strong in canoe polo for a number of years, which is why we've just got to keep these guys coming through and keep them positive and firing."

Despite competitions only starting at the end of February, the team has been training together since October last year.

"Getting them on the water and training them early is important especially for the junior boys as it’s quite a step up from the level below, so they need that time to get a lot more confident.

"And it means you can get a feel for what skills you have to teach them and that whole team bond really starts to work together."

The team hopes to better last year’s bronze placing when they take to the water at the Hawke’s Bay Secondary School Canoe Polo Championships.

Principal Dionne Thomas congratulated the team for a fantastic start to the season.

She thanked the coaches, managers, and support people who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

They are also grateful for a set of new personal flotation devices sponsored by Apollo Project, responsible for two new large scale sporting building projects in Hawkes Bay.

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