HUNTINGTON BEACH, California, January 11. USA Water Polo will hold the S&R Sport Junior Olympics in Irvine, Calif. for 2008, and as the world's largest water polo tournament, it will boast some exciting changes from past formats.
Among the improvement will be longer periods of play among the older age groups and the opportunity of winning medals in both Festival and Championship brackets.
"This should prove to be the best, largest, and most rewarding Junior Olympics in USA Water Polo history," said Nick Baba, President of host Irvine Youth Water Polo Corporation. "The innovations mean that more athletes will participate in this event, play more meaningful games, and have their efforts better acknowledged."
Beginning with the men's competition on July 26 and continuing with the women's on July 31st, the S&R Sport Junior Olympics will feature games between an anticipated 400 teams. In 2008, the 16 & Under age group will play 6 minute quarters, up from five minutes in past years and the 18 & Under age group will play 7 minute quarters.
Based on performance in the first day of competition, teams will move on to the championship or festival brackets. Both brackets will recognize the top three teams with Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. All players will receive participant awards as well.
The innovations in the tournament format this year were the product of a new USA Water Polo event task force's recommendations, which was charged with improving the experience for the participating teams and raising the overall level of competition for our membership. The task force, which will continue to meet as needed to review USA Water Polo events, was composed of members from different zones and membership strata. The S&R Sport Junior Olympics will still be governed by the Conduct of Championships, which can be found at www.usawaterpolo.org.
Special thanks to USA Water Polo for contributing this report.