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The comedy at the national pool

Posted By SportInMalta On June 3, 2010 @ 12:37 pm In Featured,Waterpolo | 9 Comments

All those present at the national pool at Tal Qroqq last Saturday afternoon definitely got good value for their money. Besides the hot duel between Sliema and Neptunes who were both vying for the winter league title, the public also witnessed a series of happenings that left many dumbstruck to say the least.

There’s a hole in the net

Yes! The net of one of goal posts was torn for the final of the winter league. This gave rise to a controversy in a match that could have easily done without this extra hassle. On two of the occasions when Neptunes scored, the Neptunes players celebrated, but the ball ended up well behind the goal post. The Neptunes fans saw where the ball ended up and were disappointed that their players “missed” two easy goals. But the referee, on both occasions, signaled that it was indeed a goal! The Sliema faithful, rightly so, started protesting that the ball, on both occasions, was out and therefore the goals should have been annulled.

But it transpired that Sliema goalie R. Coleiro noticed a hole in the net. The national pool staff proceeded to give a set of cable ties to the reserve Sliema goalkeeper A. Bianchi, who jumped in the pool and together with his team mate repaired the net. What a hilarious and embarrassing sight! The goalpost nets should be inspected before every match just like in football, or is this too much of a hassle to carry out?

Team benches: now you see them, now you don’t!

Another ridiculous incident occurred in the fourth session, with Sliema having the lead, and many present expecting the trophy to head to the Sliema pitch within minutes. Once again the national pool staff took centre stage! In fact when the teams changed ends between the 3rd and 4th session, the personnel on duty starting putting in the team benches which they assumed would not be required any more as the game would be won in 4 sessions.

After all it was already 5:45pm on a Saturday afternoon and they must have already started thinking about getting home asap. But Neptunes forced extra time with 3.4 seconds on the clock and the teams had to change ends once again, but this time they had no benches to sit on! After some light protests by the players, the pool staff carried the benches from one side of the pool to the other so that the teams could be seated.

Yet another embarrassing and unbelievable sight!


The two referees in the Sliema v Neptunes game did not have the best of performances, with a number of incidents raising the brows of both sets of supporters, but also those of the journalists present, with some of them not mincing their words in their commentary.

For example on one occasion, when Sliema scored, the ball did not completely go over the imaginary goal line, and in fact the goal judge who was seated exactly in line with the Neptunes goal post did not raise his hand to signal the goal. But referee Dalli, from a not so advantageous position, saw otherwise and over-ruled his colleague to grant the goal to Sliema, giving rise to protests.

Water polo has the luxury, unlike other sports like football, of having a “linesman” permanently watching the goal line. So why is it that a referee insists on over-ruling a person who is always positioned better than himself?

One word of advice to local fans: The more you yell and insult a referee who is already having a bad day, the bigger the possibility that calls will not come your team’s way! It’s understandable and acceptable that one shouts and complains for a dubious referee’s call, but yelling insults and swearing, definitely don’t aid the team’s cause and neither put local water polo in a good light, especially with all the kids that were in attendance.

…and to conclude

The ASA committee needs to seriously look at what happened last weekend and work to improve the situation. But one needs to ask:
- Who is responsible for the equipment (nets, benches, etc) used during our water polo leagues? Is it the ASA or the KMS?
- Was the ASA at fault for what happened last Saturday?
- As for the referees, why wasn’t a foreign referee brought over for such a hot encounter?

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