Sarawak makes return to water polo in MSSM after 25 years

The Sarawak Water Polo team will be competing at MSSM Perak.

KUCHING, March 12: For the first time after 25 years, Sarawak will be competing in the School Sports Council of Malaysia (MSSM) water polo event, in Perak next week.

Water Polo Sarawak head coach Voon Yong Hui in a statement disclosed Sarawak will be lining up seven players namely Zachary Phang, Dylan Lim, Ethan Mok, Darren Chong, Sam Leong, Cyrus Tan, and Julius Abbas, as a team to compete in the event.

According to Voon, there was no target set for the team, as the main objective is to expose the players to the competition environment.

“It would be tough because they are young and inexperienced since the state had not been sending any team for the past 25 years.

“Now we are making a comeback to the event, hopefully this will be a good start in our effort to revive the game,” he revealed, adding Sarawak might be able to send a water polo team in the next Sukma 2022.

Voon also pointed out that it took more than 15 years for the sport to make a much-awaited comeback in the state with its first major tournament, namely the Sarawak 59th MILO-PRAM Malaysia Water Polo Championships, held at the Pandelela Rinong Aquatics Centre in 2016.

He appealed for support from the Sarawak government to build a championship team to carry Sarawak’s name.

“We hope the state government will support us. Now we are starting a very young team, but we are confident that with continuous support from the state government, we will be able to produce a strong water polo team to make Sarawak proud,” he said.

Voon noted that Sarawak used to be a water polo powerhouse in Malaysia, winning the National Open Championship 16 times in a row from 1982 to 1998.

He explained that it (16 times) was a long reign as champions and water polo even eclipsed the main event of swimming as an elite sport in the State at that time.

“However, after 16 years at the top, the sport of water polo in Sarawak began to lose its shine and dominance. The last time the State team won the gold medal was at the 1990 Sukma, hosted by Sarawak.

“Following the economic crisis in the late 1990s, water polo slumped into the doldrums. Thereafter, Sarawak did not take part in any more competitions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Voon, who founded the Power Aquatics Swimming Club (PASC), revealed that three of the club’s swimmers collected a total of nine medals in the ‘56th MILO/PRAM Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championship 2020’ held in Kuala Lumpur from March 5 until 8.

The swimmers are Darren Leong (three gold medals and one bronze), Dylan Leong (three gold and five bronze) and Bibienne Ong (one silver).

From left; Bibienne, Janice, Wilfred, Dylan and Darren.

“We are very proud of their achievement. Besides, they are also selected to be in the state team to compete in the MSSM swimming event next week, along with two of our other swimmers namely Wilfred Tan and Janice Tan,” said Voon.

Darren was also selected to represent Malaysia in the coming South East Asia (SEA) Age Group swimming championship after he met the qualifying time. — DayakDaily