Sports Editor, Lucy Brogden, spoke to Emma Little, the Newcastle University Water Polo Club legend, who came 2nd in our TNSPOTY
How do you feel to come runner up?
I was so surprised to be nominated at all- I just didn’t expect it! I was thrilled to be so high up in the rankings, and although I’m gutted to have missed out on top spot, Pippa really sounded like she deserved to win.
What’s been the highlight of your WP career?
When I played for GB, we came 7th at Europeans back in 2010, the first GB team to come in the top 7, so that was special. My university highlight was coming second twice in BUCS. I’ve been in the club for nearly five years, and every year each team has been full of such a good group of girls; team spirit has always been really high.
When did you start playing WP?
I started playing for Carlistle when I was 11, they were my first team. Since, I’ve played for Liverpool, Manchester, and now Leeds at national league. I also played for GB when I was 16.
“I’ve been in the club for nearly five years, and every year each team has been full of such a good group of girls; team spirit has always been really high”
What do you like so much about the sport?
Polo is my favourite sport by far. I love playing team sports first and foremost, and I enjoy the physicality of the game, it’s what makes it fun. At uni, water polo is my release, and I’d be bored without it. I can come out of uni, go to training and forget about work. It’s a de-stress, and it gives me something to do.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue playing at national league level, and when I graduate I hope to still live in Newcastle, so I’ll be able to come back and visit the team! This year, I want to win the BUCS premier league. Although, realistically, I would be happy to get through to finals. We didn’t make it out of semis last year, and that was really disappointing. This year, we’re going to rectify that. We’ve got a strong team, and we’re training harder than ever, so we should win Stan Calvert too! I would also like to win team of the year at the AU ball. We’ve made the shortlist nearly every year I’ve been here, and it would be great to finally win.
What’s it like having your dad as the coach?
I don’t mind it. He’s always coached me, and it was him that got me into the sport in the first place. When I leave, my dad and my brother will both carry on coaching. I think it’s down to them that we’ve been so successful- we’ve got a dedicated coaching team in place.
“I enjoy the physicality of the game, it’s what makes it fun”
What’s been your biggest challenge whilst you’ve been at Newcastle?
Being secretary was especially challenging. Having to organise matches is especially time-consuming when your university don’t have a pool. We always have a fight on our hands at play-offs to get into the semi-finals as we can’t get Wednesday pool time, and teams refuse to play so late on a weekend.
What do you like about NUWPC in particular?
We’re a warm and welcoming club. There’s no cattiness, everyone just gets on, and is accepted for who they are. You can be whoever you want to be. It’s a nice club to be a part of.
Any final words?
Thank you to my lovely team mates for nominating me!
Sophie Matthews, AU Officer “A player that shows incredible talent both in the pool and out, and has a positive, welcoming and encouraging attitude which is exactly the kind of athlete that makes the Athletic Union so great!”