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Stars of tomorrow hit world stage in Malta this week

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In Volos, Greece two years ago, 25 teams competed in the inaugural Under-16 (Cadet) world championships and this year the popularity of the sport will again be tested in the Mediterranean Sea.

Officials, volunteers, referees will also be challenged as the pace of the tournament is relentless, using two facilities — the Cottonera Indoor Pool and the Tal QROQQ Sport Complex Outdoor Pool — with eight matches in each per day for seven consecutive days.

World Aquatics Technical Water Polo Committee Chair Tamas Molnar said: “This shows the expansion of world water polo that so many teams wish to be a part of this level. It augurs well for the future and allows players to get a taste of international water polo at such a young age. We will also play over 25m instead of 30m to see what happens. (Ed: A world junior championships  was played over this distance in the late 1990s).”


Image Source: Bronze medallist Serbia in 2022. World Aquatics

Looking back to 2022 it was Hungary, Greece and Serbia (above) who ascended the Platinum Division dais while United States of America, Japan and Brazil attained gold, silver and bronze respectively in the Gold Division and Georgia, Poland and Ukraine the various medals in the Silver Division.

The complexity of the draw allows all nations a chance to play a top side and the cream will undoubtedly swiftly rise to the top within a few days when competition will become more intense.

Probable favourite Hungary will have Singapore, Germany and Poland to surpass to the next stage.

Greece has host Malta, Kazakhstan and Romania to get by, if it wishes to go one better this year.

Serbia, whose senior team is looking for a third consecutive Olympic gold later next month, should be able to get by China, Peru and Brazil.

Teams from 2022 not playing this year are Japan, Switzerland, Portugal, Latvia and Azerbaijan.

Coming into the equation for the first time at cadet level are Peru, China, Bulgaria, Czechia, Zimbabwe, Singapore, New Zealand, Israel, Netherlands, Mexico, Canada and Romania.

Editor’s Note: There have been two tournaments with the highest number of 24 teams — the junior men’s events of 2007 in Long Beach, USA and the 1997 event in Havana, Cuba. This year the mix is 19 teams from Europe, five from America, three each from Asia and Africa and two from Oceania.

Groups:

Group A: Serbia, China, Peru, Brazil.
Group B: Spain, Bulgaria, Czechia, Zimbabwe.
Group C: Hungary, Singapore, Germany, Poland.
Group D: United States of America, New Zealand, Israel, Netherlands.
Group E: Italy, Georgia, Mexico, Ukraine.
Group F: Montenegro, Slovenia, South Africa, Egypt.
Group G: Croatia, Canada, Turkey, Australia.
Group H: Greece, Malta, Kazakhstan, Romania.


Image Source: Australia playing Germany in 2022. World Aquatics.

Opening day draw:

Group A, B, C and D:
09:00, Serbia v Peru
10:15, China v Brazil
11:30, Spain v Czechia
12:45, Bulgaria v Zimbabwe
15:15, Hungary v Germany
16:30, Singapore v Poland
17:45, United States of America v Israel
19:00, New Zealand v Netherlands

Group E, F, G and H:
09:00, Italy v Mexico
10:15, Georgia v Ukraine
11:30, Montenegro v South Africa
12:45, Slovenia v Egypt
15:15, Croatia v Turkey
16:30, Canada v Australia
17:45, Romania v Greece
19:00, Kazakhstan v Malta

 

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