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Mia to lead NZ to Australia

Wairarapa College’s Mia Thomas has been selected to captain the Under-18 Paddle Ferns who are competing in the Oceania Champs in April. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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Talking a lot and a love of water have landed one Wairarapa College year 13 pupil with the chance to lead New Zealand against some of Australia’s best young canoe polo players.

Mia Thomas has been selected to captain the Under-18 Paddle Ferns, who will represent New Zealand at the Oceania Canoe Polo Championships.

The annual tournament will have New Zealand’s top canoe polo teams take on Australia in Sydney from April 24–27.

St Matthews pupil Safi Thompson has been selected for the Under-18 Paddle Ferns B team and will join Thomas on the trip.

Thomas has played canoe polo since primary school and said the chance to play at the champs had come after two ‘intensive’ selection camps.

“Twice we went away for the whole weekend and had to do plenty of activities and games that tested how fast we could pass, our speed and our endurance and we were selected from there.”

In addition to competing at the Oceania champs Thomas’s team will also be competing in the Australian interstate championships.

“It’s going to be such a good opportunity, in some ways I’m almost looking forward to the interstates more.

“I want to see how good the Australian teams are in comparison to ours. It’ll be really interesting.”

This isn’t Thomas’ first Oceania champs – two years ago she was vice-captain of the Under-18 Paddle Ferns B team when the competition was held in Palmerston North.

In addition to her NZ rep team Thomas also plays for the Wairarapa Open team and the Central Districts Women’s team.

From years 9 to 11 she played for the Wairarapa College Open and Girls teams, coming second twice in the New Zealand Championships.

The 17-year-old said she liked the aggressive side of canoe polo.

“I love being on the water. It’s a good anger outlet . . . It’s like a vent outlet of all the stress and pressure of school.

“One of my big strengths is I talk a lot and that’s probably the reason I’m captain . . . communication in any sport is really important.”

Thomas spends five to six days a week training, including two team sessions for Wairarapa on the Kourarau Dam and plenty of work in the gym.

Although she has set herself the goal of reaching the IFC World Canoe Polo Championships next year, she was just taking her canoe polo career day by day.

“I don’t know where I want to take it. For a while I thought I wanted to go to the 2020 worlds in Italy, but I don’t know if I’m heading that way or not.

“It would be really cool, and I’d definitely be keen, it’s just a massive commitment. So much training and fundraising. I’m happy with how my playing’s going at the moment, so we’ll just see.”

At the moment both Thomas and Thompson are getting stuck into fundraising for the trip.

Thomas thinks the New Zealand sides have a good chance of beating their Australian competition.

“Their senior teams are probably better than us but on the younger teams we’ve got more people coming through, so our teams are stronger.

“Either way it’ll be a great competition and such an opportunity.”

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