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Women’s waterpolo in Malta needs more investment – Goncharenko

Anna Goncharenko believes that the Malta women’s U-17 waterpolo national team have the potential to reach higher objectives if they are given the right support following their exceptional performance at the European Championship finals in Turkey last week.

The Malta U-17 national team secured their best-ever performance in a European Championship when they managed to finish in 12th place at the continental tournament.

Last week, they managed to secure victories over Switzerland and Romania, who are ranked higher than the Maltese girls in the World Aquatics list, to progress to the knock out stages of the tournament.

The Maltese girls found the going tough against elite European countries such as Italy, France, and Serbia but Goncharenko, who was in charge of the team in the absence of coach Aurelien Cousin, said that the team has shown that with the right investment, they can aspire to bigger objectives.

“It was a great team performance this week, I am so proud of these players,” Goncharenko told the Times of Malta.

“If one takes into consideration the fact that this team only had a nine-day spell for preparation, the girls have certainly did something extraordinary. No doubt, this performance has shown that they possess a lot of potential and it’s important that we nurture their talent.”

Goncharenko admitted that the women’s game in Malta needs to be given the proper structure when it comes to coaching female players.

“The girls in this team have huge margins of improvement,” Goncharenko said.

“They need to be given preparation at their own clubs as unfortunately, most them came to the national team without having the basic knowledge of the game or a good understanding of the games’ rules.

“All this work should come from the coaches of the clubs. These players need to have a good gym programme, swimming endurance, carry out legs work and proper shooting drills. This week we have created so many scoring opportunities but unfortunately we couldn’t finish them off.

“Added to that there has to be a concerted effort by everyone to have a proper women’s championship. In that way these girls can play more games, something they need to do. Their training with their clubs has to be all year round and they can have a break at the end of the season unless it’s not interfering with national team commitments.”

Goncharenko said that there needs to be more investment in terms of giving these players the chance to play more matches against foreign opposition.

“These girls desperately need to participate more in international tournaments,” Goncharenko said.

“The players are exhausted after competing in the tournament that lasted one week. Mentally they are so tired as this is the first time in their life that they had to play six difficult matches in the space of six days.

“That is why it is so important to give them a proper preparation. Training camps need to be organised throughout the year and also ideally before an international competition.

“I am sure that if this is done we can fight with bigger countries than us.”

Coming towards the end of the interview, Goncharenko thanked the Aquatic Sports Association, spearheaded by president Karl Izzo, for their constant support as well as coach Aurelien Cousin, team delegate Randolph Cauchi, Claudio Azzopardi, the team manager, coach Francesca Paolella, physiotherapist Tamara Farrugia Drakard.

“I believe that we have really done a good job. And it’s just the beginning,” Goncharenko concluded.

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