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Thomas Whalan elected President of Water Polo Australia

28 November 2017

WATER POLO: Water Polo Australia (WPA) Board on Saturday 25 November elected Olympian Thomas Whalan as the new President of the organisation, with Phil Garling announcing his retirement from the position.

At a Board Meeting following the Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Water Polo Australia Board elected four time Olympian Whalan to lead the organisation.

Whalan said: “I am honoured to be appointed President of Water Polo Australia and I thank the Board for having the faith in me to lead the organisation into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“This year WPA and the State Associations, developed the sport’s new strategic plan, ‘Towards 2020 – growing and strengthening water polo in Australia’.

“The Board and WPA staff are looking forward to working with the State Water Polo Associations as well as our extended stakeholders across the country to deliver outcomes against the strategic plan.

“There are some great projects already underway with additional major announcements on the horizon that we are excited to be rolling out in the near future.

“I would like to thank Phil Garling for his dedication and commitment to the sport during his time as President,” he said.

At the AGM held prior to the Board meeting, the State Associations voted to the WPA Board a new member in Trent Birkett (ACT) and re-elected Daniel Bartels (NSW).

Water Polo Australia outgoing President Phil Garling officially welcomed Birkett to the Board and congratulated Bartels on his re-election.  He also acknowledged and thanked outgoing Board member David Martin.

“I am pleased to welcome Trent Birkett to the Water Polo Australia Board. Hebrings to the Board a significant understanding of our sport combined with expertise in his own professional life,” said Garling.

“His skills will provide a good balance to our Board and will help us assist in delivering on our Strategic Plan.

“On behalf of the Board I would also like to congratulate re-elected Board member Daniel Bartels and thank outgoing Board member David Martin, who has provided substantial contribution during his term,” he said.

The AGM also saw the 2016-2017 Annual Report presented to the shareholders and is now available on the Water Polo Australia website.

During the President’s address at the AGM, Garling outlined steps that had been taken to learn from the results at the Rio Olympics to move the sport forward.

“Following the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, an internal review was conducted of the 2013-2020 High Performance Plan, measured against the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) Australia’s Winning Edge (AWE) Strategy.

“The review included an analysis of performance as well as interviews with key stakeholders including athletes, coaches, support staff and sport science personnel.

“The outcomes from that review are referenced in more detail within the High Performance report, however include the reintroduction of an athlete mentoring program, that will help our elite athletes make the transition to ‘life after sport’ and hopefully give them confidence to extend their elite playing careers.  With no discretionary funds available, WPA must start to find ways to influence this.

“This year we welcomed new commercial partners OVO Mobile, Delfina Sport and 2XU, who are helping us deliver great programs and support our athletes across the board,” he said.

For a full copy of the annual report click here.


Trent Birkett

Trent Birkett of ACT has served as a member of the Board for Water Polo ACT and has strong commercial skills, particularly in the finance area through his professional services background.
In his professional role as Chief Operating Officer, Trent brings experience in the commercialisation of a government funded entities and has worked closely with the governing Board, ensuring appropriate governance practices are in place (graduate of AICD).

Daniel Bartels

Joining the Water Polo Australia board in 2014, Daniel Bartels has been heavily involved in Water Polo for over 20 years. As a player, coach and referee, he has played at state age level, coached at age group representative level and continues today to be one of Australia’s FINA panel referees. Having refereed over 350 national league games and toured with numerous Australian international teams to the Universiade and Youth World Championships, Daniel is one of Australia’s leading referees.

Daniel holds a bachelor of Economics from Sydney University and a Master of Business Administration from Macquarie Graduate School of Management. He has held numerous sales, marketing and management roles with multi-nationals including Nikon, Hasbro and Salesforce. His career includes being owner and founder of a successful national start-up Aussie Whitegoods Rescue, which he later sold to a publicly listed company. Prior to joining the WPA board, he was a member of the board of Water Polo NSW.

Water polo Australia

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