Frequently Asked Questions

Water polo is mainly played during summer. Teams consist of 13 players. At any one time there are 6 players and a goalie in play.

The is an Australian as well as a Western Australian Water Polo Association that clubs are required to be affiliated with.


When can I start Water polo?

Children as young as 8 can start playing water polo at Melville in the modified rules game called Flippaball.

The most important pre-requisite to playing water polo is the ability to swim. A player will not learn to swim by playing water polo alone.

A player will not succeed at, or enjoy water polo unless they maintain their swim fitness. Players supplement their water polo with lap swimming/squad training and/or Polo Swim. Polo Swim is swimming training and water polo skills training for younger children.

Some opportunities to do swimming training and Polo Swim are available through the Melville club.


Levels of Competition

A lot of players start playing Flippaball on a Friday night or Saturday morning at Melville. Once old enough and skilled enough, usually about 11 or 12 years old, players can try out for the State League competition where they will represent Melville playing against other clubs. Players can continue playing on a social basis on Saturday morning against other players at the club who are their own age, generally up to the age of 16 or 17. Once they reach 17 they can join in other social competition or continue in the State League.

Representing Melville in the State League requires that the player attends a “try out” during Winter. If they pass the swimming and skills tests at the “try out” they will be invited to attend training that typically starts in June or July.

Melville has some paid coaches and others that volunteer. If selected and training with a squad you will be required to pay training fees that cover coaching costs as well as pool entry. The number of players in the training squads usually exceeds the number that can be selected to play in the State League competition. Selection to play in the State League age group competition that commences at the start of the 4th school term will be determined by the coach. The coach will select players who trained during the winter based on fitness, skill, strength, enthusiasm, potential, behaviour, commitment and attendance at training.



Flippaball is a modified form of water polo for children just starting out. This is water polo’s equivalent to football’s Aus Kick or hockey’s Minkey.

Flippaball is run at Melville on Friday night or Saturday morning. The season runs over summer during the last school term and the first school term of the following year, having a break during the Christmas school holidays.

Boys and girls are placed in mixed teams and only play against other Melville teams at the Bicton pool.

Flippaball is for novices and is a fun easy introduction to the sport. Players can remain in the social competition or if good enough the State League competition.

Flippaball is a simplified and easier form of water polo in that:

  • At Melville the playing area is ¼ or 1/3 the size of a full water polo pool
  • The ball is much smaller that an adult size ball.
  • The younger players (not just the goalie) can catch the ball with 2 hands
  • There is no off-side rule
  • Apart from the designated goalie there are no set positions.
  • Boys and girls formed mixed teams.
  • The umpires are very protective of players and will be quick to penalise rough play
  • These games are umpired by junior (often under 14) players who are learning
  • Mums and Dads are needed to “coach” the teams during these games

The Friday night competition is aimed at the younger players between 8 – 11 years old who have not played a season before.

Saturday’s competition is aimed at the 10+ age group.

The Friday night teams are based on years 2-6, the club groups children together with their friends trying to accommodate requests from players and parents.

The older players on a Saturday morning are generally grouped together by age, based on the year they were born. There are some exceptions to this, where some players “play up” an age group if they have the ability.

Players can continue playing on a social basis on Saturday morning up to the age of 17. Generally the youngest age group starts at 8.00am.

Some Flippaball players progress to the State League and/or continue with the social club-based competition.


State League Competition

The Western Australian Water Polo Association (WAWPA) runs a State League competition. Clubs such as Melville are affiliated with the WAWPA and enter teams to play against other metropolitan teams.

Other clubs in the metropolitan area are: City Beach; Dolphins; Phantoms; Somerset; Triton and in the country: Bunbury; Busselton; Geraldton; Goldfields; Peel and Port Hedland

Melville is required to register all of its State League players with WAWPA. If a player is not registered and plays in the State League the club will be fined and forfeit the game. Like a lot of sporting associations, part of these registration fees goes towards insurance.

WA Water Polo recommends all players wear a mouth guard and in the junior competition players may not be permitted to play without one.

In 2010 the WAWPA was conducting boys and girls 14s, 16s and 18s competitions at HBF stadium on Monday night. For example there is the “State Junior 18&U A Girls”. There are no mixed teams, the boys play separate games to the girls.

WAWPA was also running Premier League on a Saturday;  A reserve; Divisions 1-3 (women), Divisions 1-4 (men) on a Wednesday night; Masters 45+; and Masters 55+ on a Tuesday night. See the WAWPA web site or www.sportingpulse.com for a full list of the age groups, fixtures and results. The age groups are determined by WAWPI and have changed over the years in line with changes within the Australian Water Polo Association.


How is a player’s age determined?

For the water polo season that goes over summer a player is placed in a team based on the year they were born. For example: to play in the State League “18s & Under” 2017-18 summer competition you must be born 2000 or later.

For the Nationals a player’s eligibility is based on their age during the competition. For example if it is a “16 and under” team you cannot be 17 or older.
National Competition

The “Nationals” is an annual competition held in a different state each year. Not all clubs in Australia send teams to the Nationals. Some clubs send teams for each age group. This varies depending on the number of players and funding within the clubs.

Melville usually enters teams every year as generally there is enough interested and competent players whose parents are prepared to fund the trip. Usually parents participate in fund raising activities such as a sausage sizzle on Friday night at Flippaball.


International Competition

Melville has always been keen to expose its players to international competition. International clubs have sent teams to Melville for example during the Tom Hoad Cup. Melville has also organised for junior teams to travel to Europe and the US to play other clubs. Players who are fortunate enough to be selected to participate in these international tours are required to play a lot of water polo almost every day. This is a physically demanding trip that the players get enormous benefit from not only as a player but as a person. Some parents elect to go on the trip but the playing group are expected to remain together as a team.