Uni young guns join the fast fives
AN INJECTION of youth will light up the 28th annual Byron Bay five-a-side water polo tournament this weekend with university teams from Brisbane entering for the first time.
The Queensland University of Technology has a strong water polo program with some state representatives and are sending men's and women's teams.
There will be 14 teams at the Byron Bay pool with perennial favourites the Brisbane Fat Boys not returning after being one of the top contenders for several years.
QUT should perform well in the five-a-side format with no offside or restarts and play continuing from the goalkeeper's end when a goal is scored
"It's going to be a bit of a younger crowd this year and that will add another dynamic to the competition,” event organiser Brendan Irwin said.
"Water polo is a sport where youth and experience can come together and make for some really competitive games.
"There has always been a really strong calibre of players turn out and that includes current national league players and past Olympians.”
The winning Sydney team from last year is back and expected to be there again in the finals along with QUT.
The Sydney team last year included Chris Corbin, Ryan Moody and Jamie Smyth, who had all been Australian representatives in the early 2000s.
Australian captain and national league player Jo Kayes also took part in the tournament last year but is now playing in New Zealand
Far North Coast teams Alstonville and Byron Bay are competing, with the home side including the likes of Aidan Lamb, Taylor Van Essen, Keita Kujiura and Irwin.
FNC players Kate Bracey, Liz Turner, Kisane Irwin and Kerry Hardey will be part of the four-team women's competition.
"There are some girls from New Caledonia here that are going to combine to form a team,” Irwin said.
"We want to keep growing that part of the competition and all the games should be high scoring.”
There will also be a fundraising dinner in aid of brain cancer research tonight at the Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club starting at 6pm.
Games start at 9.40am today and at 9am tomorrow with the finals expected about 1pm.
Spectators are welcome both days to the event, which is the main annual fundraiser for the Byron Bay club.
The Far North Coast water polo competition, which started last month, will continue night at pools across the region on Monday.