The Great Britain Under 19 men’s team have arrived in Antalya, Turkey, ready to kick off their qualification campaign for the European Championships on Friday.
The qualification tournament for Group B will be taking place at the Süleyman Erol swimming pool from May 6-8, with GB set to face Montenegro, Belgium and hosts Turkey. The top two sides will progress to September’s European Championships which take place in Holland and will be contested in Alphen aan den Rijn between September 11-18.
After a five-day training camp in Malta, including a series of matches against the Maltese Under 19s team, who are also preparing for their European qualifiers, the British squad are felling well prepared for their tough opening game against Montenegro.
Ahead of the tournament, head coach Tim Dunsbee commented, “There is a very strong, positive mind-set within this Great Britain squad and this has been nurtured throughout our training camps over the last 12 months.
As part of our preparations for our three games in Antalya, we have closely studied videos of the Montenegro and Turkey players in action. Montenegro obviously have a great tradition in water polo and they will undoubtedly be expected to win the group and qualify.
“Playing Turkey in Turkey will also be a tough challenge. We face the hosts on Saturday evening, so we’re expecting a large partisan crowd to be inside the arena. Our final match is on Sunday morning against Belgium, a team we have little data on, but we will be able to watch them play twice before we meet.”
During a break in the Maltese training camp, City of Manchester’s Chris Ray (pictured right) said, "Training with the squad here in Malta has been awesome. I've enjoyed all the preparation we've done as a team and I can't wait to play in this week's qualifying tournament in Turkey. As a team, I think we're really strong and we have a good chance of qualifying. It will be tough, but we've done everything we can to prepare for this tournament."
As a team, I think we're really strong and we have a good chance of qualifying. It will be tough, but we've done everything we can to prepare for this tournament.
The GB team will face Montenegro at 17.00 local time on Friday, hosts Turkey at 19.00 on Saturday, before taking on Belgium in their third and final match at 10.00 on Sunday.
The British team for the European U19 Water Polo Championships Qualification Tournament consists of:
- Aaron Winstanley (captain) – City of Manchester
- Dan Paddon (vice-captain) – City of Manchester/Chelmsford
- Dylan Green – City of Manchester
- Joe Hazeldine – Worthing
- Ben Riding – City of Manchester
- Chris Ray – City of Manchester
- Matt Kelly – Solihull
- Kameron Powell – Exeter
- Matt Madden – Solihull
- Joel Leighton – City of Sheffield
- Jordan Elliot – Solihull
- Ashley Castle – Bristol Central
- Peter Pickford – Watford
There are four under 19 qualification tournaments taking place across Europe, held in Turkey, Malta, Georgia and Azerbaijan.