Kelsey Wakefield, of Australia, looks to block during the Russia- Australia women's water polo match at last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Wakefield is taking part in this weekend's Byron Bay five-a-side competition.
Kelsey Wakefield, of Australia, looks to block during the Russia- Australia women's water polo match at last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Wakefield is taking part in this weekend's Byron Bay five-a-side competition. SAM MOOY

Pool of talent coming to Byron Bay water polo

AUSTRALIAN water polo players Joe Kayes and Kelsey Wakefield will take part in the Byron Bay five-a-side competition this weekend.

There will be 14 teams competing at the Byron Bay pool over two days, with current and former national league players in the mix.

Wakefield is a goal keeper and both athletes represented Australia at the Olympic Games in Rio last year.

"Water polo is one of those underrated sports where our guys can go up against some of the elite players in the game,” event organiser Brendan Irwin said.

"Joe Kayes has captained the Australian team this year and plays in the national league in Sydney.”

Brisbane-based team the Fat Boys have had a stranglehold on the competition over the past decade but Gold Coast teams have narrowed the gap in recent years.

Newcastle and North Sydney have entered a team for the first time this year while four teams from Far North Coast Water Polo will take part.

Alstonville will have a strong side in the men's competition, with Jedburgh Pellandine leading the young side.

Byron Bay has been building this season and has a new addition in powerful left-hander James Schymitzek. The team will be captained for the first time by Taylor Van Essen.

Irwin is also in the side while Matt Slee will be crucial in the faster five-a-side format of the game.

There is no offside or restarts, with play continuing from the goal keepers end once a goal is scored.

"We've been building over the past year and this will be the first time James and Taylor have played in the tournament,” Irwin said.

"Having someone with the fitness Matt has will definitely help the team, too.

"It's great for the club and hopefully it can build towards FNC selecting a team that can play at the NSW Country Championships.”

Byron Bay had a training session with Water Polo NSW development manager and national league player Chris Dyson in the lead-up.

Games start at 9am on Saturday, with finals on Sunday from about 1pm.

Spectators are welcome both days to the event which is the main fundraiser for the Byron Bay club.



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