Bronze at canoe polo worlds
New Zealand's under-21 women's canoe polo team have won bronze at the world championships in Poland, helped by a strong Otaki influence.
Six of the team's eight players are from the Otaki Canoe Club, while the coach and manager of the team are also from Otaki, with daughters in the team.
Captain Jordan Housiaux, vice-captain Paris Pidduck, Kelsi Robertson, Haley Bertelsen, Jordan Pearse and Kate Horrocks were part of the national team, while Peter Housiaux was coach and Jane Bertelsen manager.
Having left for Europe on August 15, the girls returned over the past week as the third best team in the world, but feel like they could have done better.
Playing at the Malta Regatta Course on Lake Malta, Poznan, New Zealand lost to France in the semifinal, despite beating them by three goals in pool play.
Parent and supporter Ann- Marie Housiaux said it was the biggest event the team had been to, and was the first time a New Zealand under-21 team were invited to the worlds.
"With approximately 600 athletes representing 26 countries, the Otaki contingent were feeling slightly overwhelmed," she said. "Canoe polo is a very big sport in Europe. But having worked hard to represent their country, they focused on the task in front of them."
On day one, the Kiwis defeated Great Britain 6-2, Canada 11-4, and lost to Germany 5-4. Day two saw them beat France 6-3, Poland 7-3 and Japan 16-1.
In the semifinal with France, the girls were hot on attack for about 70 per cent of the match, but struggled to find goals, losing 2-1.
New Zealand went on to dominate the third-fourth playoff with Great Britain 6-3, while France lost to champions Germany 4-2 in the final.
Housiaux likened the atmosphere to a European football game, "especially with the parochial crowds chanting, banging drums, blowing trumpets and clackers and cheering for their countries".
"The chant of 'Kiwi' could be heard thanks to the strong Otaki support crew that travelled to Poland as well as many other Kiwi supporters from throughout New Zealand."
The team were only the second from New Zealand to claim a medal at the Canoe Polo World Championships in its 25-year history.
Otaki club member Jayden Matthews was vice-captain of the under-21 men's side, which finished fourth at the championships.
- Kapiti Observer