He has not met half the team but new coach Paul Oberman is confident he can get the Australian women’s water polo team on the podium at next year’s World Championships.
One goal was all that stopped the Stingers from beating Russia in the quarter-finals in Tokyo and progressing through to the semi-finals.
Oberman, who played for the Australian men’s team at the Barcelona Games, was the assistant coach to the Sharks for 11 years and the head coach at the Western Australian Institute of Sport for 12 years before taking on the Technical Director role in Singapore.
He was 18 when he first tried his hand at coaching the women’s A-grade team at the Triton Water Polo club.
“It has been a lifelong dream to be the head coach of the Australian men’s or women’s team, now that I’ve got that the next step is to be the best the we can be,” Oberman said.
The 52-year-old already has a plan to get the Stingers back to their winning ways.
“I believe the women’s team has a good blend of experience and youth and there are some talented young players in the system who will be pushing to be in the team,” he said.
“A few skill execution errors is what has put them on the wrong side of the winning line.”
Oberman will shake-up the women’s style of play introducing a more active, fast-paced game all the way down the chain from the national team to junior level.
Experience is also key – something the women lacked in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics due to Covid-19 border closures and travel bans.
With life returning slowly to a new normal, Oberman hopes the Australian women’s team will be able to compete at a range of international tournaments and hold camps overseas.
“I want to create opportunities for the younger players and give them the experience and chance to push their case forward,” he said.
“The only way our younger athletes are going to get better is through game experience.”
The world championships are due to be held in Japan in May.
Despite the lack of preparation time Oberman said there was no reason the Stingers could not claim a spot on the podium there or at the Games in Paris.
Oberman will land in Sydney on Saturday morning.
He will spend the time travelling around Australia checking out the national league games, talking to coaches and scouting talent.
Oberman’s 12-month stint in Singapore proved challenging, especially as he was unable to be with family when his mother suddenly passed away.
The experienced coach had resigned from his technical director role, ready to make the move back home, four days before Water Polo Australia contacted him with the job offer.
Water Polo Australia announced in September it was looking to relocate to Brisbane ahead of the 2032 Games.