Duel in the Pool 2008 - Coaches' Camp and Water Polo Tournament

Joan Gould
Water Polo Planet

FINA has ended water polo competitions for the 20 and under age group but the private groups of Water Polo Planet and World Water Polo Magazine have stepped in with an exciting new water polo event that has something for everyone. The event website is www.duelpool.com

The organizers invite individual male athletes, teams, and boys and girls aged 15-18 to participate in the 2008 Duel in the Pool Water Polo Tournament, Camp and Water Polo Festival. The event will be held in Obrenovac, Serbia on 18-30 June 2008.

The purpose of this event is to allow 1986 male players from anywhere in the world to play with, and against, top teams and players. It gives national and club teams the chance to have teams aged 20 and under compete in a large well-organized event to help prepare this age group for open mens events. It is a chance for boys and girls aged 15-18 to meet USA University and High School coaches. It allows players to reach the next level of competition, playing internationally for new coaches with different tactics and players with different backgrounds. Players will advance rapidly and take away a once in a lifetime experience.

Water Polo Planet is an experienced host of International camps and events. Each year since 2005, Water Polo Planet has hosted a European water polo camp in the USA. At these camps, where elite international athletes aged 16-22 train and compete in the USA, players are coached by young coaches from around the world and return to their countries bigger, better, and stronger. Several athletes from past camps are now attending USA Universities and playing water polo as members of their university teams. Several of the younger players (from Serbia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and South Africa) from the 2006 Camp won All American status for their outstanding play in the 2006 USA Junior Olympics.

According to Water Polo Planet Technical Director Loren Bertocci, the 2008 event is a natural outgrowth of the annual international event. “There are many male athletes in the 18-22 year old age group who have not yet reached their physical peak. There are many extraordinary players from countries who lack international opportunities and this program fills the gap and helps players move to the next step. Event coaches are some of the best ex-Pros and ex-Olympians available and will bring new perspectives and experience to each of the players. The fact that athletes from the USA, South Africa, and Oceania can play on the same team with talented players from Europe will dramatically improve the game when those players return to their home teams. It will improve the game of water polo all over the world.”

Organizers and city leaders expect 300-400 water polo players plus families and coaching staff to descend on the city of 75,000 (14 KM outside Belgrade) for the 12-day event.

Individual Players

Individual players (men born in 1986 or later) apply for selection to one of eight different camp teams. A total of 100 players from all around the world will be selected to attend the camp. Players will try out in front of these coaches during 3 days of swimming, water polo drills, and scrimmages. After the coaches finish evaluating the players, the coaches will select their own individual team rosters from a common player draft. The teams put together from this draft will compete in a 5-day, 12-team tournament. Each member of the winning tournament team will be awarded a custom-made championship ring.

The goal of this camp is to expose top-level players from all around the world to a wide variety of teammates, coaches, referees, and playing styles in order to improve each player’s individual skills. Each team will be composed of players not just from different countries but from different continents. Coaches will benefit from multinational idea exchange and the chance to work with players outside their normal (national) experience. Coaches and representatives of European, New Zealand, and Australian professional leagues will attend. And just like the players, coaches from some of the top universities in the USA will compete against coaches from Europe and Oceana.

Each player selected will receive a limited edition event swimsuit, event T-shirts, gear bag, and a Duel in the Pool robe. The athletes drafted onto an individual camp team will receive robes the color of their team and a patch with their name and country flag on the right sleeve. The left sleeve will be reserved for award patches players can win by good play, all tournament team selection, swim tests, goals scored, MVP, and for being a 1st round draft pick.

Players are chosen by coaches based on their position and on their overall ability to play in a top-level international tournament under FINA rules. For USA players who compete on their university teams back home, NCAA regulations place a limit of only four players from any single NCAA water polo team. Therefore, once four players from any one USA university team are selected, applications will be closed for players from that university. Players can apply on line at www.duelpool.com.

Water Polo Player Draft

For the first time in history, coaches choose their teams of international players based only on player skill and tactics, without regard for international boundaries or politics. On the evening of Saturday, June 21, players, coaches, and guests will assemble for Water Polo Draft Night. Just like in the NBA and the NFL, coaches will select the players they want on their teams for the remainder of the event. All 100 players will be selected and players selected in the first round will receive special awards. Following the draft, each camp team will have four days of twice-daily practice together, with scrimmages and additional daily film and strategy sessions.

The Tournament Itself

In addition to the 100 athletes playing on one of the eight camp select teams, the organizers are willing to reserve up to six places for club teams (with players born in 1988 or later) or national teams (with players born in 1990 or later) that would like to compete as intact teams. The tournament itself will take place 25-30 June 2008. The camp select teams will have a 2-year age advantage but club and national teams will have a team-play advantage. Interested teams should contact Technical Director Loren Bertocci (USA) at [email protected] to apply for consideration.

University Festival For Male and Female Players Aged 15-18

The University Festival is for male and female players, aged 15-18, who want to train with, and meet, some of the best university coaches from the USA.

If an athlete dreams of playing water polo while studying in a USA university, this is the opportunity to meet the coaches of some of the top university teams in the USA. During these sessions, the athletes will also play against some of the best players in their age group in the world. For 3 days, college coaches will test the athletes in swimming, water polo drills, and evaluate their game play during scrimmages.

Festival players will be able to stay at the athlete hotel and share in all of the athlete activities. These activities will include Water Polo Draft Night, films of great water polo matches, and evening meetings with all the coaches. Also, for those athletes who dream to play in next years Duel in the Pool, this is the chance to possibly earn pre-selection for the 2009 Duel in the Pool.

Interested festival players can apply online at www.duelpool.com.


All the activities throughout the entire event are open to any coach. Water Polo Planet has structured a competitive water polo setting where coaches can relax while, at the same time, sharing techniques and philosophies without the stress of competition.

Visiting coaches will have complete access to all activities throughout the event. They will have the opportunity to observe training and scrimmage sessions, take part in all event activities, and even sit one the benches directed by some of the top coaches in the world. Visiting coaches have the complete access to observe international-caliber players in both training and competitive sessions.

All visiting coaches will be awarded VIP status with full credentials to attend every part of every event.

So far, the following coaches have committed to be in attendance: Nebojsa Novoselec (Spandau 04), Nikola Malezanov (Nis, Serbia), Goran Bakovic (Partizan Serbia), Vladimir Lazic (Obrenovac Serbia), Kirk Everist (University of California, Berkeley), Gavin Arroyo, (Long Beach California State University), Dan Klatt (University of California Irvine), Todd Clapper (Arizona State University), Jim Floerchinger (Wellington NZL Water Polo), Chris Radmanovich (University of the Pacific), Dustin Litvak (Los Angeles Water Polo Club), and Ryan Castle (Arizona State University). There may be more coaches selected. Interested coaches may contact [email protected]