In a country that boasts 180 pools, there exist only two water polo clubs with just 40 active players. To be fair, the infamously demanding sport isn’t for everyone – who wants to spend their free time swimming until their arms and legs are burning while opponents are constantly trying to drown you?
Despite its more recent hibernation, water polo has had quite a history in Iceland. Although they lost all three of their matches, Iceland sent a team to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. In fact, it was the first sport the country ever sent to the Olympics. But what’s the state of the Icelandic water polo scene today?
Based in Reykjavik, the Ármann Water Polo Team holds the status as the most dominant competition of the area, most recently showcasing their strength at the fifth annual Iceland International Water Polo Tournament in May, which hosted reigning world champs Croatia and heavy hitters from Australia. It is clear that water polo in Iceland is craving exposure and popularity.
Glenn Moyle, the head coach of Ármann, is dedicated to reviving the once prevalent sport through his efforts to gain publicity on both a regional and international level. “The biggest challenge for me is to try and find a balance between having competitions and also keeping it fun, because we were doing a lot of things just for fun back in the day,” Moyle told The Grapevine. “When you’re trying to grow a sport as demanding as water polo, it’s hard enough to play a competitive match, so we found that it’s more important now to keep the fun in the sport.”
Moyle began his own water polo journey at the age of 10. “I grew up in New Zealand and started off swimming as a kid from the age of 6,” he explained. “In New Zealand we have so many water sports and it is not hard to fall in love with the water there. I was thrown a ball at the age of 10 and asked if I wanted to play for the school’s water polo team and that is where my love for the sport started to grow.”
His pure talent and devotion to water polo was evident in his youth, as he was a captain of his New Zealand school and junior-age (U16) teams. The sport then carried him to Holland, where he continued to compete and later began his world travels. He then went on to play for the national junior team in New Zealand and competed at the 1995 world U20 championships in France. He finally moved to Iceland in 2006, where he has been ever since.
Keeping it fun
“We realize that we are competing with so many different sports and I can’t win against such a minority – water polo is always the little brother to swimming in any country in the world. I think of it like it is in the game, you’re constantly trying to keep your head above the water, and the same goes for on the sidelines too. Water polo needs more publicity,” Moyle said.
Welcoming athletes from across the spectrum in terms of skill and age, Moyle emphasizes that anyone who wants to play can and should. All it takes is a simple click of the mouse to send a message to one of the water polo club’s many social media accounts (via Instagram, Facebook, or email), and Moyle will gladly invite you to jump in.
That inclusive attitude is exemplified in Ármann’s motto: fun first, fun second and fun third. Whether you want to discover an enjoyable new way to keep in shape, or you just think that you’d look good in a Speedo, the Ármann Water Polo team is ready to welcome you with open arms.
The Ármann Water Polo Team is back from its summer hiatus and looking for new recruits. Follow them on Instagram @armannwaterpolo or at waterpolo.is.
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