England water polo debut for Perse pupil

Aryan Govender (Year 9) had a splashing start to 2024 after making his debut for the England U14 water polo squad at an international tournament in Spain.

He played for the England Eagles at the prestigious HaBaWaBa competition in Barcelona, with his side facing opponents from top club teams from the host country, as well as France, Portugal and Andorra.

In the initial group stage, Aryan’s Eagles claimed two wins – 6-5 over CN Caballa A and 11-1 against French side Team Edelweiss – as they came fourth in their pool.

As a result, they moved into the silver section for the rest of the event and ended up facing their squad mates, the England Lions, in the 11th-place play-off, which they lost 10-7.

Aryan said: “It’s funny that we ended up playing the Lions, who were representing England’s northern talent centres, as it was a battle of north v south! I know quite a few of their players, so it was a very interesting game.”

Aryan, who plays for Watford’s U16 team in the London League and his East region age group side, found taking part in HaBaWaBa was a big learning curve.

He said: “It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. The weather was much better than it was here as well!

“The standard of water polo was extremely high. The Spanish club sides were much more competitive than clubs in England, but Spain are the No 1 ranked country in the world.

“We played Malaga’s girls team in the group stage and they beat us, – they were very good and ended up finishing fourth overall.

“I learned a lot from the competition that I can incorporate into my game to help me improve, and I also made a lot of new friends, so it was very worthwhile.”

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