A young water poloist from Bury has been selected for the ASA England Talent Water Polo programme. Rebecca Yates, who lives in Unsworth, has been playing the sport for two years, and follows in the footsteps of her father, Michael, who played for England’s senior team, and mum Jackie, who played for City of Manchester.
The 14-year-old, who is currently in Year 10 at Bury Grammar School for Girls, trains five times a week at Stretford Water Polo Club or City of Manchester.
Michael Yates, who is now the manager of GB under-19s team, said: “The talent training weekends take place on a monthly basis in Cardiff. Rebecca has been to three so far.
“The youngsters spend a lot of time playing water polo and also concentrate on their strength and conditioning. “The first weekend in January were trials. After the trials they selected the squad. She’s been through three selections now and the squad seems to be settled.”
At club level, Rebecca is in the under-15 team at City of Manchester and played for the north west in January.
“City of Manchester is really the place to be for water polo at the moment,” said Yates.
“They are the current women’s champions and won all of the ASA National Age Group Championships for both boys and girls last year.”
Water polo, which is one of the oldest Olympic team sports, received £4.5million for London 2012, but its Olympic funding has been withdrawn ahead of the Rio Games in 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
The captain of the women’s GB water polo team at London 2012, Fran Leighton, is now the team manager for GB’s talent programme.
She said: “The recent decision by UK Sport to cut the legacy funding was a massive blow to Rebecca and the many other athletes involved in the sport. It will have a massive impact on their Long Term Athlete Programme.”
Rebecca, who has set herself the goal of competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, is also performing well academically. She plays the violin and is currently preparing for Grade 7. She has also been selected for the Greater Manchester Youth String Orchestra.
“We are very proud of the commitment Rebecca has shown to achieving her goals,” said Yates.
Bury Grammar School for Girls headmistress Bobby Georghiou said: “We are all delighted to learn of Rebecca’s success in water polo. She has trained very hard to reach this standard.
“She also finds time to play the violin to a very high standard whilst maintaining the highest standard academically.
“We are all very proud of her achievement here at BGSG,” she said.