Water polo welcomes Manila as sport’s capital
That water polo being a tough sport suits well with the rugged, resilient image of Manila, rings true. Especially coming for homegrown “Tondo Boy” and national team playing coach Dale Evangelista.
Treading on water while jostling for ball possession and jockeying for scoring positions requires not just physical strength and swimming skills. But mental strength as well.
“You don’t need height to play water polo,” said Evangelista, head of Manila’s Barangay 56. “You don’t need expensive equipment, you can be poor. You just need courage and fighting heart.’
That’s why the national team, a silver medalist during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, welcomed the decision of the City of Manila to shoulder the responsibility of being the country’s capital of water polo.
Aside from Evangelista, there are many members of Team Philippines who hail from Manila. That includes team captain Tani Gomez and Allan Payawal.
“We’ll start the program of Mayor Isko Moreno for Batang Maynila, but for sure the mayor would choose to be inclusive so it would possibly be open for aspiring players from other places,” added Evangelista.
Assisting current head coach Rey Galang, Evangelista said it’s the right time to have a capital city for the sport.
He said countries with strong water polo programs like Japan (Kashiwazaki) and Spain (Barcelona) have their main hubs on specific cities where all support components are established.
The program will identify specific training centers for each of the six districts with the age-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex along Vito Cruz being its center.
Aspiring players get to undergo training and selection under the watch of national team athletes and coaches.
“They need to learn the fundamentals first then the techniques,” said Evangelista. “Then we would like to organize tournaments city-wide.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.