By Yvonne Yap/Red Sports
NP (blue) players exchanging handshakes with the NUS (white) players before the final game. (Photo 1 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
After three weeks of intense competition in the pool, the National University of Singapore (NUS) successfully retained the NUS-Great Eastern Water Polo Challenge title with a 14-4 victory over Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), proving once again why they are the powerhouses in water polo.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) emerged as second runners-up while Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) were kept out of the medal-places once again in fourth position.
The four teams finished in identical fashion in the inaugural challenge in 2009. NUS beat NP 16-8 then for the title.
National team players swept all three individual awards available. Lim Yaoxiang (NTU) bagged the “Top Scorer” award with 22 goals while on the other end, Nigel Tay (NUS) clinched the “Best Stopper” award after conceding only 21 goals. Lin Diyan clinched the award for the “Most Valuable Player”.
The spotlight may be on the NUS team and the national water polo players who are fresh from their Laos South East Asian (SEA) Games win but waiting to emerge from the shadows are a bunch of young talents mainly from NP.
The NP team comprises of predominantly first and second year students who came into the tournament with the tag of Polytechnic-Institute of Technical Education (POL-ITE) Water Polo champions.
Jason Tan, Foo Chuan Yu and Raul Pandey led the scoring charts for their team as they hit double figures for the tournament. Champions NUS were the only other team with three players scoring in double figures.
NP captain Jason Tan, who also competed in the 2009 edition, revealed some of the evolutions in his team: “Last year, our year threes were physically strong but our pace was really slow. This year we have a (physically) smaller team, but a very fast team. Both last year and this year, we lost. But I would say this team has more potential.”
“This is a platform for us to show what we've got and the national team manager has approached a few of us. I guess we can be seen as the future,” Jason beamed. “So give us one year. Even if we don't win, we'll probably be their teammates in the national team. A few of us maybe, not all.”
The national water polo team manager, Samuel Wong, was also at the competition to talent-scout during some games. Samuel, a banker by profession, shared that most of the players he scouted are from NP. He also added that the standard of play, propped up by the powerhouses NUS and NTU, was “really strong”.
He revealed what he was looking for at the tournament saying: “Potential as well as a kind of aggression (in the boys).”
“The way they protect the ball… the way they handle the ball… the way they control the game… how they communicate,” he added when asked how he spots the better players. He stated that the foundations should already be present, but what sets the players with the potential for development apart from the other players was “the hunger for the win”.
NUS captain Bryon Teo also noted the rise in standard of play: “The standard of play this year is a lot tougher compared to the previous year. As title defenders, the NUS team noted many up and coming teams that had made known their intention to ‘snatch’ the trophy from us. Largely, the games were rather well matched and intense. In fact, there were instances of violence in the pool when the players became heated! Each individual team had more players and depth as well.”
“As organizers, we are indeed joyous that the quality of play has increased over the year. Many players shared that the NUS-Great Eastern Water Polo Challenge is pivotal in their development; the teams now have a competition to look forward to and train for,” Bryon added.
So what’s in store for the water polo players? For the scouted ones, national team manager Samuel Wong lets on that he hopes to expose them to higher-level competitions this year namely the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in Delhi, India and Guangzhou, China respectively.
“What I'm aiming for with this group of boys is that we can recruit them into the national team. Hopefully, we can bring them to one of the games this year like the Asian Games. I think in the longer term, our target will be the SEA Games (next year).”
NUS-Great Eastern Water Polo Challenge Group A Table
|Ngee Ann Polytechnic||3||3||0||0||65||15||9|
NUS-Great Eastern Water Polo Challenge Group B Table
|National University of Singapore||4||4||0||0||44||10||12|
|Nanyang Technological University||4||3||1||0||35||17||9|
|Singapore Management University||4||1||2||1||21||24||4|
|Singapore Institute of Management||4||0||2||2||23||51||2|
NUS-Great Eastern Water Polo Challenge Top Scorers
|Lim Yaoxiang||Nanyang Technological University||22|
|Willy Peh||Singapore Institute of Management||14|
|Andy Ou Wei Liang||Nanyang Polytechnic||14|
|Raul Shankar Pandey||Ngee Ann Polytechnic||14|
NUS-Great Eastern Water Polo Challenge Goal Differences
|School||Goals For||Goals Against||Goal Difference|
|National University of Singapore||80||21||59|
|Ngee Ann Polytechnic||80||39||41|
|Nanyang Technological University||68||43||25|
|Singapore Management University||42||35||7|
|Singapore Institute of Management||47||66||-19|
Raul Shankar Pandey (NP #7) looking to pass the ball to an open team mate. (Photo 2 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Andy Ou (NYP, #11) jumping to block his opponent. Andy scored 14 goals in total, with 5 of his goals coming from the fourth quarter of games, showing that he thrives under pressure. (Photo 3 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Lin Diyan (NUS, #2) taking on Tobias Zhang (NP, #6) in a one-on-one position in the final. (Photo 4 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
NP keeper Shawn Lim was one of the players scouted for the national team. He conceded 39 goals, behind best stopper Nigel Tay of NUS, and scored 2 for his side. (Photo 5 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
Lin Diyan (NUS, #2) lifts the ball up to score. He scored a total of 10 goals throughout the tournament. (Photo 6 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
Bryon Teo (NUS, #5) celebrating a goal scored with teammate Ben Cai (NUS, #10). NUS scored a total of 80 goals, on par with NP, and conceded only 21 goals. (Photo 7 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
Nigel Tay looking on as his teammates make their way down the flanks. The national player protected NUS’ goal and only allowed 21 goals past him. (Photo 8 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
Lim Yaoxiang (NTU, #3) was a scoring machine for his side, chalking up 22 goals, outscoring runner-up Lijie from Temasek Polytechnic by 7 goals. (Photo 9 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)
Leisher Lee (NYP, blue) was one of the players scouted by national team manager Samuel Wong. He scored a total of 8 goals throughout the tournament. (Photo 10 © Yvonne Yap/Red Sports)