The Coral Springs Aquatic Complex played host to the 13th Annual South Florida International Youth Water Polo Tournament earlier this month, which drew in teams from around the globe in the 3-day competition.
Teams from as far as Europe participated in the event, as well as teams from various parts of the continental United States, Canada and the Caribbean. On a local level, the Davie-based South Florida Water Polo Club sponsored the tournament and had four different teams represented at the games: 2001 coed, 1999 boys and two 1996 boys teams.
Coach Michael Goldenberg, who once played for the Soviet Union’s youth water polo team, heads up the local program and expected his teams to perform well.
“I expected us to have at least finished in the top four because we not only have a lot of experienced players but we also have a lot of tournament experienced players too,” Goldenberg said.
Goldenberg did have some of his expectations met as his 1996 (red) boys placed third and 1999 boys took fourth.
“That was a great tournament where all players received a lot of playing time,” Goldenberg said. “The weather was great and the crowd was awesome.”
The club’s 2001 coed group finished in sixth place out of 12 teams in its division and the other 1996 boys (blue) placed 12th.
South Florida Water Polo Club customizes its schedule to make sure those who play on high school teams have the ability to play for both. Goldenberg has his athletes participate primarily when the high school season is over in order to best accommodate all players’ water polo commitments. During the club’s season, the athletes practice five days a week at Nova Southeastern University.
Plantation resident Parker Strickman, 16, plays for Goldenberg’s 1996 (red) and 1999 teams, and also plays for St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Strickman was excited to be able to play in an event close to home.
“It’s much more convenient to be able to play these [international] teams in Coral Springs instead of us having to travel to the other countries,” Strickman said before taking to the water on the final day of the competition. “Tournaments like this also show us how other teams play all over the world, and when we play the more aggressive teams, it’s great because it challenges us to play even harder.”
The Aquatic Complex is no stranger to entertaining international and large events.
“We host some of the best [water] events in the country and this is one of the largest water polo events in the Western Hemisphere,” City of Coral Springs Aquatic Manager Mike McGoun said. “This is an outstanding tournament. It’s great that the local club gets to participate in something like this against all of these great teams so close to home…”
Coral Springs resident Alex Rose, 18, who has been playing for the South Florida Water Polo Club for four years and plays for St. Thomas Aquinas High School, also likes having the event right in his backyard.
“The best part about this international tournament is being able to compete [in Coral Springs] against teams from different countries and seeing how they play,” Rose said.
“This really is a very unique event; to have teams from all over the world in one location,” Goldenberg added. “I like when Coral Springs gets to host something like this.”
The event had four divisions: 12 teams in 1996 boys, 10 teams in 1996 girls, 16 teams in 1999 boys and 12 teams in 2001 coed.
Final standings for the event overall are:
1996 boys-Encantada (Puerto Rico), Riptides (Miami), South Florida Water Polo (Fort Lauderdale)
1996 girls- Diablo (California), Greenwich (Connecticut), Gigantes de Carolina (Puerto Rico)
1999 boys- Encantada (Puerto Rico), ORWP (California), FTC (Hungary)
2001 coed-Royhil Seals (Trinidad and Tobago), Hialeah Storm (Miami), Jamaica
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