History of water polo

The history of water polo as a team sport began as a demonstration of strength and swimming skill in late 19th century England and Scotland, where water sports and racing exhibitions were a feature of county fairs and festivals.[1][2] Men's water polo was among the first team sports introduced at the modern Olympic games in 1900. Water polo is now popular in many countries around the world, notably Europe (particularly in Serbia, Russia, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Greece and Hungary), the United States, Canada and Australia. The present-day game involves teams of seven players (plus up to six substitutes), with a water polo ball similar in size to a soccer ball but constructed of waterproof nylon. One of the earliest recorded antecedents of the modern game of Water Polo was a game of water ‘hand-ball’ played at Bournemouth on 13 July 1876.[3] This was a game between 12 members of the Premier Rowing Club, with goals being marked by four flags placed in the water near to the midpoint of Bournemouth Pier. The game started at 6.00pm in the evening and lasted for 15 minutes (when the ball burst) watched by a large crowd; with plans being made for play on a larger scale the following week. The rules of water polo were originally developed in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain by William Wilson. Wilson is believed to have been the First Baths Master of the Arlington Baths Club in Glasgow. The first games of 'aquatic football' were played at the Arlington in the late 1800s (the Club was founded in 1870), with a ball constructed of India rubber. This "water rugby" came to be called "water polo" based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu.[4][5] Early play allowed brute strength, wrestling and holding opposing players underwater to recover the ball; the goalie stood outside the playing area and defended the goal by jumping in on any opponent attempting to score by placing the ball on the deck. The rules of water polo were originally developed in the mid-nineteenth century in Great Britain by William Wilson. The modern game originated as a form of rugby football played in rivers and lakes in England and Scotland with a ball constructed of Indian rubber. This "water rugby" came to be called "water polo" based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, it means pulu.[3][4] Early play allowed brute strength, wrestling and holding opposing players underwater to recover the ball; the goalie stood outside the playing area and defended the goal by jumping in on any opponent attempting to score by placing the ball on the deck. By the 1880s, the game evolved that stressed swimming, passing, and scoring by shooting into a goal net; players could only be tackled when holding

he ball and could not be taken under water. To deal with constant changes in rules, in 1888, the London Water Polo League was founded and approved rules to allow team competition, forming the foundation of the present game. The first English championships were played in 1888. In 1890, the first international water polo game was played; Scotland defeated England, 4-0.[5] Water polo final at the 1908 Summer Olympics Between 1890 and 1900, the game developed in Europe, with teams competing in Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Hungary and Italy, using British rules. A different game was being played in the United States, characterized by rough play, holding, diving underwater, and soft, semi-inflated ball that could be gripped tightly and carried underwater. In 1900, the sport of water polo was added to the program of the Olympics - the first team sport to be added.[6] Due to the different codes, European teams did not compete. By 1914, most US teams agreed to conform to international rules.[7] An international water polo committee was formed in 1929, consisting of representatives from Great America and the International Amateur Swimming Federation (FINA). Rules were developed for international matches and put into effect in 1930; FINA has been the international governing body for the sport since that time. Over the years, both technical and rule changes affected the character of the game. In 1928, Hungarian water polo coach Bela Komjadi invented the "air pass," or "dry pass", a technique in which a player directly passes the ball through the air to another player, who receives it without the ball hitting the water. Previously, players would let the ball drop in the water first and then reach out for it, but the dry pass made the offensive game more dynamic, and contributed to Hungarian dominance of water polo for 60 years.[8] In 1936, James R. ("Jimmy") Smith, California water polo coach and author of several books on water polo mechanics, developed a water polo ball made with an inflatable bladder and a rubber fabric cover, which improved performance. The previous leather ball absorbed water and became heavier during the game. In 1949, rule changes allowed play to continue uninterrupted after a referee whistled an ordinary foul, speeding up play. In the 1970s, the exclusion foul replaced a point system for major fouls; players guilty of this foul were excluded for a 1 minute penalty and their team forced to play with fewer players. Possession of the ball was limited to 45 seconds before a scoring attempt. Time of penalties and possession has been reduced since then. The direct shot on goal from the seven (7) meter line after a free throw was allowed in 1994, and changed to a five meter throw in 2005.