Origins of the game

Originally played as a form of rugby football in rivers and lakes in England and Scotland with a ball made of Indian rubber in the mid 19th century – “water rugby” later became “water polo” based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu.

By the 1880s the game developed into one with swimming, passing and shooting a goal into a net and the first international was played between England and Scotland in 1890. Water polo was developed as two differing sports in Europe and the USA. Over time the less aggressive and faster European game took precedence and became the internationally accepted game.

Water polo made its Olympic debut at the 1900 Paris Games and has appeared at every subsequent Games.

The first women’s Olympic water polo tournament took place at the 2000 Sydney Games. FINA has been the international governing body for the sport since 1900.

How it Works

Water Polo is a team sport that typically consists of 13 players, seven of which are in the water at any one time (six field players and one goalkeeper). The game consists of four eight minute quarters with a stop/start and a 30-second possession clock in operation. Two opposing teams battle it out with the purpose of scoring a goal with the ball in their opponent’s cage. Each goal is worth one point.

Coloured caps are worn by all the players with individual numbers and ear protection. These are used to help distinguish the players and provide protection.

Water Polo - played in a deep water pool - is considered one of the most physically demanding sports requiring considerable endurance and stamina.

Format at World Masters Games 2017

Men’s age groups will be 30+, 35+, 40+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+ and Ladies 30+, 40+ and 50+. Dependent on the number of registrations received combined pools may be required. The number of pools and number of games in each age bracket will be determined closer to the World Masters Games by entry levels.  Normal FINA Masters’ rules will apply – although there may be some variations dependent on venue and sport requirements. For example, some age groups may play six-minute rather than seven-minute quarters. Games will be played in a 23.5m long pool.

Expected Number of Competitors: 320

Kiwi Hero – Rene Bol

Wellington-born Bol first represented the senior New Zealand team aged just 17. Standing at 6ft 2ins and weighing in at 99kg, the Hutt Club player later sought his international future overseas and represented Canada, winning bronze medals for his adopted country at the 1979 and 1983 Pan American Games. He also went on to represent Canada at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Did you Know?

Fijian-born New Zealander, Michael Victor Alexander Lindberg competed for Great Britain in water polo at the 1900 Olympics. He was probably the first New Zealander to compete in water polo at an Olympics, although he is not recognised as such because he appeared in British colours.  

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