Under the Radar: Water polo makes a splash

Christopher Martinez, Staff Writer

One of the most underrated sports, which is also considered the second hardest sport in the world, is water polo. A sport that is fun to play and fun to learn although many people do not know what it is, water polo is a sport everyone should watch or try to play.

The physicality aspect of the game is tough due to the possibility of broken noses, scratched eyeballs, ruptured eardrums and loss of concussions being almost guaranteed at a water polo game.

Just like swimming, water polo has a platform every four years at the Olympic Summer games and that is when people get to see a sport people are not used to following.

The men and women’s water polo teams are both one of the most dominant teams in Olympic water polo history, the women’s have achieved two back to back Olympic gold medals.

Both male and female athletes try their best to spread the word of the sport during their off season, they hold clinics and awareness for the sport.

Two notable USA Water Polo players from the area who have left their mark on Olympic Water Polo are Brenda Villa from Commerce, California and Tony Azevedo from Long Beach, California.

This sport requires enormous physique and combines the throwing strength and accuracy of a quarterback, with the stamina and speed of a top-class swimmer.

The way the game is played involves six field players and a goalie. The field is always on, but not limited to a swimming pool, ocean or lake.

Water polo games consist of scoring by throwing a ball in a water polo cage or goal, which is no bigger than 10 feet wide and three feet tall from the surface of the water.

Two major rules to water polo are a two meter rule which does not allow any player within two meters from the cage without the ball first entering the two meter area.

The second rule is a common foul which allows for a free pass unless the player is outside of the five meter mark which then the player can then either pass or shoot.

As in hockey, there are ejections for fouls where they are excluded from the field of play for a possession or unless told to reenter the playing field by a referee.

At a professional level water polo has no following, but at the college and high school level it is just as popular as college football.

Cerritos College is fortunate enough to have one of the best water polo programs in California as the Falcons head into the South Coast Conference Tournament on Thursday after posting a conference record of 4-1, they are truly a force to be reckoned with.

The team is coming off two fresh wins against Merced College and conference rivals Long Beach City College.

The win against Merced was a nail bitter until Cerritos pulled away in the fourth and final quarter as Cerritos took the win 14-12.

The Falcons stole the win from Long Beach after a game deciding goal by Arturo Ortuno who not only won the game for Cerritos, but forced a three-way tie for the first place position in the Southern Coast Conference.

Water polo is an ever demanding sport that needs to be given the respect it deserves, this sport is not just for swimmers and water polo players there are many different alternatives to water polo so that everyone can participate in.

There is splash ball for little kids where they wear water backpacks that help them float, shallow water polo for those who want to play, but cant swim and there are many of programs and clubs where people can learn to play and have fun.