KUCHING: Sarawak will be sending a team to compete in the Malaysian School Sports Council (MSSM) water polo championship for the first time in 25 years, which will be held in Perak next week.
Water polo head coach Voon Yong Hui said the state team is made up of seven players namely Zachary Phang, Dylan Lim, Ethan Mok, Darren Chong, Sam Leong, Cyrus Tan and Julius Abbas.
According to Voon, the main aim in sending the players was for exposure so they are not setting any target for them.
“It would be tough because they are young and inexperienced since the state had not been sending any team for the past 25 years.
“Now that we are making a comeback to the event, we hope that this will be a good start in our efforts to revive the game,” he said in a press statement.
Voon added that Sarawak might be able to send a team in the next Sukma in 2022.
He stressed that Sarawak used to be a water polo powerhouse in Malaysia, winning the National Open Championship for 16 times in a row from 1982 to 1998.
It was a long reign as champions and water polo even eclipsed the main event of swimming as an elite sport in the state at that time.
However, after 16 years at the top, the sport of water polo in Sarawak began to lose its shine and dominance.
The last time the state team won the gold medal was at the 1990 Sukma which was hosted by Sarawak.
Following the economic crisis in the late 1990s, water polo slumped into the doldrums.
Thereafter, Sarawak did not take part in any more competitions.
It took more than 15 years for the sport to make a much-awaited comeback in the state with the first major tournament – Sarawak 59th MILO-PRAM Malaysia Water Polo Championships at the Pandelela Rinong Aquatics Centre in 2016.
“We hope the Sarawak government would support us. Now we are building a very young team but we are confident that with continuous support from the government, we will be able to produce a strong team to make Sarawak proud,” Voon said.
On the other hand, Voon, who founded the Power Aquatics Swimming Club (PASC), revealed that three of its swimmers did very well in the 56th MILO/PRAM Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championship in Kuala Lumpur from March 5 to 8.
They are Darren Leong who collected three gold and one bronze medals, Dylan Leong three golds and five bronzes while Bibienne Ong won a silver.
Darren was also selected to represent Malaysia in the coming South East Asia (SEA) Age Group swimming championship after he met the qualifying time.
“We are very proud of their achievements. Besides that, they are also selected to be in the state team to compete in the MSSM swimming event next week with two other swimmers Wilfred Tan and Janice Tan,” said Voon.