Australia’s Canoe Polo rebuilding with team of ‘Super Mums’

Australia’s women’s Canoe Polo team dubbed the “Super Mums” are aiming to help rebuild the sport in the country as they prepare for the International Canoe Federation Canoe Polo World Championships in China. 

The players in the team have 13 children between them as they balance high level sport with family and work life. 

Australia’s Assistant Coach Duncan Cochrane says his players are continuing to take everything in their stride and push for success. 

“We have dubbed the team the ‘Super Mums’,” said Cochrane. 

“One of our players is Jane Stevenson. 

“She is a former Great Britain player who emigrated to Australia about 15 years ago. 

“She has two kids and is absolutely phenomenal. 

“Some of our players have got young children like Erin Moore, a former New Zealand whose a mother of three with the youngest just eight months old. 

“We have even got a mother-daughter combination with mother-of-four Sarah Alexander who represented Australia in 2002 and whose oldest daughter Matilda will be in the under-21 team.”
australia_canoe_polo_under 21

It has been 12 years since any Australian team won a medal with the women’s side claiming bronze in 2012. 

Sarah Heard and Siobhan Goble are the only returning players from that team in this year’s squad led by Head Coach Rebecca Jennings who was also in that medal-winning side. 

Australia will head to the World Championships when it takes place from October 15 to 20 in Deqing, Huzhou. 

“Some of this group have had a taste of success before and have got really good experience,” said Cochrane. 

“They are being instrumental in helping rebuild the national programme and pass on their experience and skills to the next generation. 

“Whilst there is always the dream, we have to be realistic about our chances given how long it has been since we played internationally. 

“The European teams know each other so well whereas us and New Zealand are the odd ones out and could always potentially cause a few upsets.  

“We are certainly not saying that we are going there to win it.  

“We are going to see how far we can go.” 

Cochrane reckons Australia will be heading into the “unknown” having not featured at a World Championships in six years. 

Australia last competed on the biggest stage in 2018 and have three returning players from that team in Anna ThompsonAlana Pacholke and Jen Stevens.  

After the 2020 World Championships was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian teams were forced to miss the event in 2022.

The revival of Canoe Polo in Australia was clear at this weekend’s selection event in Adelaide as players battled for places in the men’s under-21, men’s senior, women’s under-21 and women’s senior teams. 

Australia is now set to send four teams to a World Championships for the first time. 

“It is a real opportunity for us with our first ever under 21 women’s team at a World Championships,” continued Cochrane. 

“They are soaking up the extra skills and experiences the Super Mums and other players are providing. 

“This is a reflection of the effort being made at various clubs to rebuild that participation base that had been lost through Covid.” 

Cochrane was part of the Australian men’s team that captured the world title in 1994, 1996 and 1998. 

Australia have not won the tournament since 1998 when the women’s team also last triumphed. 

“We had a great group of men that did well in 2012 when they came fourth but then the money drained and that generation moved on with life and families,” added Cochrane. 

“People had this perception early on that Canoe Polo was this massive sport in Australia, but it never has been that and the distances we travel makes it really hard for regular high-level competition 

“New Zealand has more than seven times the total number of players that we do and they do not travel the distances that we do. 

“We have a far smaller group.  

“In someways that’s good as you can focus on the quality but then you don’t have the quantity and the depth to back things up if you lose a few key people. 

“But I think we are in a really exciting period now as we rebuild and everyone is pretty fired up for this World Championships  

“It is also a really good lesson for women in all sports how you can still compete at the elite level after having kids.”



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