Surge in Rookies for Melbourne's gay water polo club
With a Gold Medal win at last year’s World Outgames in Antwerp, the Melbourne Surge’s surprise achievement for 2014 has come in the form of nearly two dozen fresh faces in the pool.
After a successful drive for expressions of interest at Midsumma and via word-of-mouth recruitment, a real challenge laid ahead.
“Usually you’d see a lot of guys at the first few practices, but it’s a tough sport,” says Surge president Shannon ‘Seven’ Roxburgh. “Within a few weeks the group of new players narrows down pretty quickly. By the end of it, we were happy if we had three or four dedicated guys stick with it.”
The club revisited the Rookies Program and strategized about how to not only introduce 50 new faces to water polo but to then keep them in the pool every week. Surge Captain Andrew ‘Disco’ Scriberras worked closely with newer club members to develop a plan.
“We were really conscientious about letting the new players know that picking up the sport takes time and that there was no pressure to be amazing from the start,” he says. “We also wanted to make sure the guys hung around after practice to get to know the team on a social level.”
One of the new recruits, Mike Cox, found the club environment to be exactly what he was looking for.
“I had been looking for a team sport to get involved with for a while,” he recalls. “I stayed with Surge because the team are so encouraging, engaging and most importantly everyone makes me laugh!”
Shane Priscina found about the club accidently. “I met a friendly bunch of boys at the pub that invited me to watch a game. Then they suggesting getting into the pool and having a go.”
With an initial turnout of over three dozen men and women, the new program format saw a higher than usual retention level. The program finishes with the Black Vs Gold Event at South Yarra Sport Centre, the club’s home pool. This year’s game saw 20 new players play their first official game of water polo to a small crowd of local supporters.
For another new player, Donny Lay, the social element played large part in his decision to stay on.
“I joined predominately for the opportunity to meet new people and build on my gay social circle. I actually didn't have many gay friends. The social aspect since joining plus learning a new sport has made it even better. The club just had a great balance of serious and fun.”
The Melbourne Surge train weekly at South Yarra Sports Centre and welcome new and experienced players alike. For more info check out their Facebook page: facebook.com/MelbourneSurge