Perak’s water polo team, led by coach David Heong, won the National Under-15 Championship in Kuching recently.
It is an annual competition and this year Sarawak was the host. Water polo consists of 13 players, seven are in the water, the remaining six are reserves. “This time we have students from St Michael’s Institution, Tenby Ipoh Schools, SMK Methodist (ACS) Ipoh and Sam Tet,” said David. Four other states took part in the Under-15 category and Perak came on top.
“We’ve programmes for non-swimmers and water polo players. It depends on the students, if they want to learn swimming or to play water polo, we’ll teach them,” he told Ipoh Echo. They have coaches from Tenby Schools helping to train the team. Training sessions are held at the Kinta Swimming Club.
Lifesaving lessons too are conducted. It is a non-stop programme aimed at perfecting the students’ capabilities and techniques. “I started coaching around 1999 till 2005 before taking a break. When I stopped, the state team’s performance plunged so I returned in 2013 and formed this junior team,” said David.
A former state and national player, David, an ACS alumnus, started playing the game when he was 13. Presently, he is the only qualified water polo coach in Perak.
His one complaint is the tight budget which could hinder the progress of the game. He hopes for more funding and sponsorship, as expenses for trips are being borne by the students’ parents.
Two of his players, Heong Zhao Yuan, 15, and Loh Siew May, 19, were picked for next year’s SEA Games selection. Heong was one of the top scorers in Kuching.
Water polo, according to David, is not widely known in Malaysia. It is unfortunate because it is a healthy sport and like all sports, it teaches discipline and instils camaraderie. “We’re currently training for the upcoming Sukma Games which will be held in Ipoh next year. I hope the team will remain intact till then,” he added.
Readers keen on learning to swim, save lives and play water polo do get in touch with David. He can be reached at 012 511 1238.