This weekend Great Britain's U21 men and women's Canoe Polo teams finished their final training at Let's Go Hydro, Belfast ahead of the European Championships in Catania, Italy. Both teams were really impressed with the venue and see why the site is bidding to host the 2026 World Championships.
The Belfast site, owned by Pete Boyle, boasts 6 pitches, all with grandstand seating, referee boxes and large display screens. The facilities on site include accommodation for all players, coaches and officials, in luxury pods, cabins and a 50 bedroom hotel (due for completion by 2026). Temporary and permanent structures are already available for all officiating and catering requirements.
Let's Go Hydro has already hosted the Junior International Championships in 2017 and 2019, with 22 nations attending in its recent event. The event will go ahead again in 2022. As well as hosting international events Pete hopes the venue and its facilities will develop polo paddlers for the international stage in the future. To achieve this vision as well as to fill the 5000 capacity venue, there’s an engagement project up and running with local schools to find the next generation of championship players.
Ulster Canoe Polo Club, based at Let’s Go Hydro, has 65 members under the age of 23. Four players are attempting for championships selection in the GB U21 men’s team and one in the U21 women’s team. Eight players usually train with the Irish national team, which has temporarily suspended activity until 2022.
Four teams representing Great Britain fly to Catania for the long awaited European Championships on the 5th - 10th October. Players from England, Wales and Northern Ireland have continued to train through all stages of lockdown and face their first international opposition since 2019 this coming weekend at the ECA St Omer.