Brenda Villa
Courtesy of: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
CANCUN, Mexico, March 5. LAST week, Swimming World spoke with Olympic gold medalist Brenda Villa to get her hopes and thoughts on what would occur the World Water Polo Conference in Cancun.

FINA put on the two-day event in Mexico, and invited some of the top thinkers from sports, media and social media to find ways to help grow the sport of water polo.

Today, Villa is back with a few of her reflections on the conference.


What are the five things you learned that impacted you the most at the conference?
- Think Global (I exchanged information with Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mexico and I'm hoping to be able to run clinics or help with their water polo development)

- Fan Experience is critical (festival atmosphere, access to athletes)

- "Dumb it Down" (We need to simplify our game so the Average Joe understands it.)

- Change how our sport is shown on TV (more cameras: underwater, on goals, different angles)

- Increase awareness and reach

Are you more or less hopeful about the future of water polo as a sport following your time in Cancun?

Definitely, more hopeful. This was a great idea by FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu. This conference started the dialogue that was needed. Now, I feel there is a common game plan for the sport of water polo. We all need to do our part.

Some countries and federations have bigger roles with more resources and smaller counties with less resources still have an important role. We are all connected and inter-linked. I think we have a great opportunity to do something great with our sport, and it seems to me like everyone at the conference is ready to move together in the same direction.

What is the one thing that water polo members can start doing immediately to help the sport's future based on what was talked about in Cancun?

We all need to engage in the social media sphere. FINA only as 15K followers on Twitter. I don't think any water polo player has more than 10K followers on twitter. This is not okay.

We need to engage our fans. We need to create heros, and we need to take advantage of social media, it provides us a pretty inexpensive format to promote our sport. After hearing from Claude Ruibal from Google/YouTube, we need to use this media channel as a way to show our sport over the Internet more often. Find a way to show our games on smartphones and tablets.

I challenge everyone to load a water polo game per week on YouTube.