After an exhilarating season of countless ups and the very occasional down Michael Cousins, captain of the University of Manchester men’s Water Polo firsts, has a lot to reminisce over.
However, before digging into the ins and outs of this season’s results Michael was keen to give an insight into how he got into the gruelling, rewarding, and perhaps slightly under-known world of water polo.
Michael has been playing the sport “since the age of seven” after being guided in the direction by a swimming coach who clearly spotted the future talent, yet the road was not as pre-planned as it may seem:
“I got into water polo because I was the worst out of all my friends at football as a child, so I decided to go down the path of swimming lessons.”
After eventually finding his feet, or I should say hands, the path has now led to Michael leading the University firsts to an unbeaten season in the league, in what he recalls as the best moment of the season.
“A high point has to be winning the Norther 1A, the first time since anyone in the current team can remember winning it.”
This said, the season was not without its obligatory low points: “The cup round of 16 against Dundee, nine players instead of 13, no goalkeeper, second-team players having to step up and ultimately getting knocked out of a competition we were the best team in…on penalties, that one stung.”
From emotional pain to physical injuries, in a contact sport as rough as water polo, Michael said the injuries are surprisingly “never particularly vicious”, with elbow injuries “due to wear and tear” the most common.
Eager to acknowledge the efforts of those around him, the captain gave me an insight into the group mindset of those in the squad: “The progression from last season to this one is huge, there seems a big work ethic from the boys to win every game, our coach seems to have even more belief in us, and the team ethic stands out more than it did last season.”
Finally, representing the University in any sport clearly takes a lot of time, effort, and responsibilities but the rewards seem paramount. Michael let on to how playing water polo at university has impacted on his time in Manchester:
“Water polo has been massive for me at university; really creating a close hub of friends in and out of the sport. Obviously there is AU on a Wednesday where you can bond with your club mates in a social setting but also outside you make friends for life whilst you’re at uni and there isn’t a better way to do that than through sport in my opinion.”
Evidently, Michael and the rest of the squad are enjoying their time in the pool, going uneaten is an achievement not to be overlooked. Still further they seem to be making the most of the benefits that sport can bring to day-to-day lives.