The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Health & Fitness

Water Polo: A Manly Man’s Game

Water Polo: A Manly Man’s Game
    written by
    Mohamed El Shennawi

    Have you ever wondered what a bunch of men wearing Speedos, grabbing and
    touching each other are doing? It’s called water polo.

    Over the years, water polo has become a very popular team sport in Cairo, and in fact in all of Egypt. So popular, in fact; that
    chances are you will find people that know the game in every group of our
    society. Look at the buffed up guy in the crowd and ask him if he’s a water-polo
    player; it’s either yes or he’s a gym freak!

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that because water polo takes place in the
    pool like synchronised swimming, it’s a sport for wimps. Swimming up and down a
    25m to 30m pool, during an 8-min, 4-quarters game without touching the bottom or
    the sides of the pool is not easy!

    Water polo in Egypt
    is not just a sport; it’s a lifestyle. Your friend the water polo player will
    most likely always be ditching you and the whole outing because he has practice
    to attend, he will always smell like chlorine and will eat like there is no
    tomorrow while maintaining a fat-free, lean and muscular body.

    Water polo is a team water sport. The team consists of 13 players: seven
    field players and six substitutes; the game starts with six field players and one
    goalkeeper. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals. The
    game involves swimming, players passing the ball while being defended by
    opponents, and scoring by throwing the ball into a net defended by a goalie.
    Therefore, water polo has strong similarities to the land-based game of team
    handball. The frequency of ‘man-up’ situations also draws comparisons with ice

    The team water sport requires a strong ability to swim, since field
    players must play both offence and defence positions. They swim 25m to 30m at a time,   and engage in mid-water wrestling, before
    turning back for the opposing team’s possession.

    The front-crawl stroke used in
    water polo differs from the usual swimming style in that players swim with their
    heads out of the water at all times to observe the field. The arm stroke used
    is also a lot shorter and quicker in order to protect the ball at all times.
    Backstroke is used by defending field players to track advancing attackers and
    by the goalie to track the ball after passing. The water polo’s backstroke also
    differs from regular swimming backstroke; the player sits up a bit in the
    water, using eggbeater leg motions with short arm strokes to the side instead
    of long, straight arm strokes. This allows the player to see the play and
    quickly switch positions as needed. It also allows the player to quickly catch
    an oncoming pass with a free hand.

    As all field players are only
    allowed to touch the ball with one hand at a time, they must develop the
    ability to catch and throw the ball with either hand and simultaneously catch a
    ball from any direction. Experienced water polo players can catch and release a
    pass or shoot with a single motion.

    The playing season in Egypt
    starts in December and ends in May. Competing clubs like Heliopolis, Gezira and Ahly are the major and most competitive clubs in this game.

    Playing water polo is a life-changing decision; it’s about sacrifice and
    dedication. However, if you survive the training, you will enjoy going out,
    partying hard and looking good doing it.