Water Polo: Hurricanes set to play in Newcastle Harbour

EXCITED: Hurricanes women's player Belle Humby cannot wait to showcase water polo to the people of Newcastle with a game in the harbour on March 18. Picture: Marina Neil

EXCITED: Hurricanes women's player Belle Humby cannot wait to showcase water polo to the people of Newcastle with a game in the harbour on March 18. Picture: Marina Neil

The Hunter Hurricanes men’s and women’s teams will play a National Water Polo League match in Newcastle Harbour on March 18.

It could be the first of many games played in the Queens Wharf enclosure if it is received well.

The idea has been a “pipedream” for Hurricanes board member Phil Reid, who played for Hunter in the national league from 2006-2015.

He is now hoping local businesses will get on board in a show of support for the initiative.

PERFECT VENUE: The Hunter Hurricanes men's and women's teams will play at Queen's Wharf on March 18. Picture: Marina Neil

PERFECT VENUE: The Hunter Hurricanes men's and women's teams will play at Queen's Wharf on March 18. Picture: Marina Neil

Reid, who played for the Hurricanes in the national league from 2006-2015 and is now a board member of the club, said it could be the first of many games played in the harbour.

“The enclosure is perfectly built for water polo,” Reid said.

“It’s perfect width, it’s slightly longer but that’s no hindrance. We’ve always thought that it’s been an ideal location for a game.

“Even prior to being involved in a national league team people really wanted to play there.”

Reid said the Hurricanes were still finalising council licences and netting for the enclosure but the match was “across the line”.

OPPORTUNITY: Hunter Hurricanes board member Phil Reid with players (from left) Jake Robinson, Eliza Limn, Eric Vande Mortel, Chris Whitelegge, Belle Humby, Andrew Dunford and Bailey Sheather. Picture: Marina Neil

OPPORTUNITY: Hunter Hurricanes board member Phil Reid with players (from left) Jake Robinson, Eliza Limn, Eric Vande Mortel, Chris Whitelegge, Belle Humby, Andrew Dunford and Bailey Sheather. Picture: Marina Neil

“To begin with, that first game is something that we’ll try to cut our teeth on and understand the logistics of and in time we see that Queens Wharf venue as an opportunity to hold other big water polo events,” he said. 

“There’s harbourside function centres there and a really epic view of the water beneath and the space there to utilise it for a big corporate-style event.

“There’s a real opportunity for it to kick off and go from strength to strength.”

The Hurricanes hope to have games running all day, starting with junior matches and culminating in the men’s and women’s games in the afternoon.

Reid said being a Saturday afternoon meant they could capitalise on the high pedestrian traffic through the area.

“It’s a real opportunity for us to increase the profile of water polo to people who will be otherwise utilising that area,” Reid said.

“We want to use it as a conduit for people who otherwise have never seen the sport, if they’ve got interest in it to get involved. 

“We’re taking some cues from the whole T20 movement and what other sports are doing to try to make themselves more attractive.”

The schedule for the day is still being finalised but talks have involved getting temporary stands, corporate boxes, live entertainment and even a pop-up bar.

Queens Wharf Hotel director Steve Smith said the concept “started as a bit of a joke when I first started sponsoring them” but was excited to help the idea come to life.

“[Water Polo Australia events and competition manager] Noel Harrod said it was the best venue you could possibly hope for,” Smith said.

Also excited about the games are players.

“Playing in the ocean is going to be awesome and to have a really good crowd and really great view is going to be good,” Hurricanes women’s player Belle Humby said. 

Hurricanes men’s player Bailey Sheather said the game offered plenty of prospects.

“I’m pretty stoked that we can bring an event to the harbour, it’s pretty unreal,” Sheather said.

“It’s going to help boost the game a bit and it should be good.”

Balmain play NWPL games are played in the Dawn Fraser Pool in Sydney Harbour.

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