Meet Alexandra Boyd. Alex is the current captain of the New Zealand Women’s Team.
Q. Describe the first time you represented New Zealand-when, where, who against?
A. I first represented New Zealand in 2005 in the Under 14 New Zealand Girls' team which travelled to Townsville, Australia to compete in the Under 14 State Championships.
Q. What other sport were you good at?
A. Whilst I was growing up I also participated in swimming and netball, however once I reached high school I specialised in water polo, as we had a considerable number of trainings each week and I did not have enough time to continue playing other sports.
Q. Which coach did you learn the most from and why?
A. Fraser Bickley has been influential in my water polo career. I learnt a lot from him throughout the years playing for QEII Crushers, and it was because of him that we had a lot of success. Fraser was also the coach of my New Zealand Junior Women's team, which competed at the 2009 FINA Junior World Championships in Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia. This tournament cemented my passion for water polo. Recently I have learnt a lot from the current New Zealand Senior Women's coach Angie Winstanley-Smith, and her passion for the sport is infectious.
Q. What has been the highlight of your water polo career?
A. Too many to choose from!! Most recently captaining the New Zealand Senior Women's team at the 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament in the Netherlands was an amazing experience, in particular our strong game against the host nation the Netherlands. However all my experiences in water polo have been a highlight to me. Having my debut for the New Zealand Senior Women's team at the 2010 FINA World Cup in Christchurch in front of my family and a home crowd is a standout memory.
Q. What challenges have you overcome during your career-or any that you are facing now?
A. The 2011 Christchurch Earthquake has been a real challenge which I have had to overcome. I was playing water polo in Australia for UNSW when the Earthquake occurred. After returning to Christchurch at the conclusion of the season, in preparation for the 2011 World Champs in Shanghai, it was difficult to maintain training with my home pool QEII being closed, and there being virtually no pool space at Jellie Park. In order to continue my water polo, I played for Hutt Water Polo club, travelling most weekends to play in the Senior League. I am lucky that they have been very supportive of me, and this year our team came 2nd which was an achievement. Study and employment have also been, and remain, a challenge, trying to find a balance between training, competitions, and working so that I can afford to play given the National Team has no current funding, and players have to fund themselves.
Q. How did you manage your university studies and playing water polo at the same time?
A. It was a struggle at times, having to miss considerable amounts of university due to being away for competitions. But having a strong work ethic, and being able to work to deadlines has really benefitted me. Along with some supportive lecturers and peers who made it possible for me to be away.
Q. Your favourite water polo experience/venue/swimming pool?
A. I love playing and training in outdoor pools. It's refreshing and motivating. Australia and Spain have been some of the best pools, with the venue in Barcelona on top of a hill overlooking the city. However, the competition and swimming pool at the Shanghai World Championships were impressive temporary structures.
Q. Your favourite water polo player?
A. Maggie Steffens from USA
Q. Who was the best player you played against? What was it like?
A. Tough! I have a lot of respect for all the international players I play against. Once you're in the water you forget who they are. The international level is a lot tougher than our local competitions, so no matter who you are playing you have to step up.
Q. What are your short/long term goals in the sport?
A. My short term goal is to compete at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, with the aim of our team being in the top 8. My long term goal for the women's team is to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which would be an amazing experience.
Canterbury Water Polo Association, PO Box 31-133 Ilam, Christchurch 8444, NEW ZEALAND