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Geraldton water polo competition returns with better refereeing requirements, new format

The Geraldton Water Polo association is back in the pool, playing the first matches of the summer over the weekend.

The association’s Julia Gourley said it was good to be back and a new format and a refereeing panel headed by Kiwi former international player Russell McKinnon were among the reasons to be excited.

“The (new) structure has gone much better than anticipated,” Gourley said.

“It’s just great we’re back for another season.

“That (changes to refereeing) just brings us up another level if any of us go and play in the Perth level or go away for country week.

“It brings the bar up higher.

“It’s just bringing that connection closer, the country league to where the Perth league sits, so it’s really exciting.”

She said the association planned for two referees from the panel to be at each A-grade game and one at B-grade games to raise the level of officiating.

McKinnon, who moved to Geraldton from Perth last winter, is part of the media committee at FINA, the international swimming body that overseas competitive swimming, diving and water polo, and travelled to Tokyo 2020 for the water polo competition.

A water polo player who previously toured as an international with New Zealand, he is also a coach and chair of the committee that selects honourees for the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Fixtures have been changed this season so that all A-grade games are on Sundays and all junior and C-grade games on Saturdays.

B-grade games will run on Fridays and Saturdays.

Rats will field A-grade men’s and women’s teams, which Gourley said was a new development she was “excited” about, while there will be a composite Country Week team.

The association has strengthened its focus this season on helping junior players play at national level.

There were two competitive junior games on Saturday as B52’s beat Demons in the boys’ and girls’ divisions by almost the same scoreline.

B52’s won 12-3 in the junior boys, and 13-3 in the girls.

In other results, Demons beat B52’s 8-7 in men’s A grade on Sunday, while Country Week beat Rats 7-2.

Serpents beat Rats in the women’s A grade on Sunday, 11,3, while Demons and B52’s drew 4-4.

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