Meet Fraser Bickley, our U16 Girls’ coach and a well respected member of the water polo and surf life saving communities in Canterbury. Fraser has been an iconic figure in water polo over the last twenty years; he played for New Zealand teams from U15 to Senior level, he is a former NZ Women’s Head Coach and he played or coached at every Pan Pacs between 1992 and 2010. Wow, and that is only a short summary of his water polo career.
Q. Describe the first time you represented New Zealand-when, where, who against? A. NZ Under 15 team in the 1992 Pan Pacific Youth Games series vs New South Wales.
Q. What other sport were you good at? What were your achievements? A. Swimming and Surf Life Saving. Swimming NZ age group silver medallist and national open finalist, SLS gold medals In a variety of disciplines.
Q. Which coach did you learn the most from and why? A. Peter Szilagyi, NZ senior Women’s coach 2003-2006, Hungary senior women’s coach 2006-2008. I was mentored by Peter during his employment with NZ Water Polo from 2003-2006, I was the NZ Schoolgirls Head Coach and also assisted Peter with the NZ Junior women and NZ senior women’s teams that competed in the 2003 Jnr NZ vs Australia test series in Sydney, 2003 Junior Worlds in Calgary, 2004 Olympic Qualifiers in Italy, 2004 Junior Development trip to Hawaii, 2005 Junior World Champs in Perth, 2005 Senior World Champs in Montreal, 2006 Commonwealth Tournament in Perth, plus numerous other camps and trips, over this period.
Q. What challenges have you overcome during your career-or any that you are facing now? A. To overcome the belief that the South Island’s “isolation” means that we are inferior to the North Island teams and players. I believe there was a brief period where this was overcome when 5 girls from Christchurch represented NZ at the Junior world championships in Russia 2009 as well as 2 boys from the same age group played at the junior world championships in Croatia one albeit for Australia. The girls also managed to win all their national tournaments up to the age of 20. This was achieved mainly from hard work and time in the pool.
Q. How did you manage your university studies and playing water polo at the same time? A. I always found that exercise was the best way to focus the mind. If anything the relatively flexible timetable of university allowed me to focus more time on training and recovery.
Q. Your favourite water polo experience? A. Attending the Universiade in 1999, which is the world university games which involves multiple sports and over 6000 athletes. The NZ university team that went on this trip to Majorca, Spain all state that this was the best trip of a lifetime.
Q. Your favourite water polo player? A. Ivan Perez from Spain he has hands the size of dinner plates and the head the size of a basketball.
Q. What are your short/long term goals in the sport? A. My short term goal is to provide the first steps in developing players in Canterbury which in turn will benefit my long term goal of Canterbury being the top Water Polo region in New Zealand.
Canterbury Water Polo Association, PO Box 31-133 Ilam, Christchurch 8444, NEW ZEALAND