My Turn: Get water polo back into our pools

Being an administrator and coach for the Big Island’s USA Water Polo Club “Hui o Polo Wai”, Coach for Konawaena Girls Water Polo, and a player of high school and college polo, I am happy to see that HPA and Kamehameha girls teams have been able to play some water polo this spring. It’s great to see the newspaper coverage of water polo, which really helps highlight a sport that most don’t get a chance to see.

It was unfortunate that last year’s BIIF spring seasons were cut short by COVID-19, but they were not the only schools that had their season cut short.

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Hilo, Waiakea, Keaau, Kealakehe and Konawaena all had the same fate. There were many seniors from each school who lost their final season and many this year who will never see their final game.

According to USA Water Polo Association, water polo is being played throughout many states and schools on all levels from young age groups to Olympic level.

USAWP states water polo has been inaccurately classified as a “high risk of transmission” sport and that with on deck protocols in place water polo is “safe and represents an extremely low level of transmission.” A letter from USAWP was recently sent to Gov. David Ige, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and each of Hawaii County’s sports league directors, with facts and scientific information on why water polo should not be listed as a “high-risk” sport.

Hopefully, this will help to get water polo back into our pools.

Since our state and county misclassify water polo as a “high-risk” sport, our public high schools have not allowed polo to be played. Only basic conditioning is starting to be allowed by our school and only when a county pool was available or authorized to be used. It’s very unfortunate when one group or school can play, while another group or school cannot.

Youth club sports are being played on our fields and courts and swim clubs utilizing pools in larger numbers, yet not all of our youth have the option to be a part of that. School sport is often the only way for them to play their sport of choice. We as community and parents should be supporting and working hard to keep sports that can be played safely going on all levels.

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The school year is quickly coming to its end and the girls of Konawaena would love to be allowed to play what would be for our seniors their final game.

Michael Godden is a resident of South Kona and an administrator and coach for the Big Island’s USA Water Polo Club “Hui o Polo Wai,” coach for Konawaena Girls Water Polo, and a player of high school and college polo.