THREE Solihull players have been named in Great Britain’s Under-19 squad for the European Championship qualifiers in Antalya next month.
Matt Kelly, Matt Madden and Jordan Elliot have been named in the 13-man squad for the qualifying event between May 6-8 where GB will face Montenegro, Belgium and hosts Turkey.
The top two sides will progress to September’s European Championships which take place in Holland and will be contested in Alphen aan den Rijn between September 11-18.
As part of GB’s preparations, the players have spent the past 12 months training intensively in the new 30metre pool in Beswick, Manchester, and they have also gained valuable international experience from trips to Spain and Holland.
Before flying to Turkey, the team will head to Malta on April 29th for a five-night training camp where they will face Malta’s under-19s, who are also busy preparing for their European qualifiers.
“Selecting the final 13 players for these qualifiers was a difficult decision,” said coach Tim Dunsbee. “There has been a group of 17 boys who have worked very, very hard to make the team.
“The inevitable debates about the various merits of the players took some time. However, considering the balance of the players that are available, we believe we’ve picked the best available squad.
“There is a very strong, positive mind-set within this Great Britain squad and this has been nurtured throughout our training camps over the last 12 months.
“I’m hoping that this tournament will be the springboard for these players going forward. A few weeks ago we all looked on as France qualified for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio. This surely shows us that we could also achieve the same in the future.
“As part of our preparations for our three games in Antalya, we have closely studied videos of the Montenegro and Turkey players in action. Montenegro obviously have a great tradition in water polo and they will undoubtedly be expected to win the group and qualify.
“As a nation, they do not have “weak years” within their programme and therefore we expect a tough time against these water polo “elites”.
“Playing Turkey in Turkey will also be a tough challenge. We face the hosts on Saturday evening, so we’re expecting a large partisan crowd to be inside the arena. Our final match is on Sunday morning against Belgium, a team we have little data on, but we will be able to watch them play twice before we meet.”
In total, there are four under-19 qualifying tournaments taking place across Europe in Turkey, Malta, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
For live updates from Antalya, follow @ENGWaterPolo on Twitter and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/englandwaterpolo.