Adding more world medals to the tally was behind the first ever two-day training camp for future canoe polo stars, held in Palmerston North last weekend.

Canoe polo is an amateur sport which has been punching above its weight in recent years and, despite being a male dominated sport, it is the women who have been collecting the medals.

Players from as far afield as Invercargill were taken back to the basics, with lessons including off-water and boat skills, game tactics, refereeing and goalie training.

New Zealand Canoe Polo Association squad director David Morritt has been trying to develop a succession plan, after seeing Australia go from gold medallists to underdogs in less than a decade.


"The Aussies were gold medallists in the mid-1990s and their women's team got bronze in 2012," he said.

"We are now the dominant force in Oceania having really worked hard to train our teams representing the different age-groups from under-18 to veterans, for the Oceania Championship."

However, every other year before world championships, the applicants trialling for selection are the only ones who get the top training.

"Our New Zealand women's team are the current world champions and the U21 women's team were bronze medallists at the last two world championships."

Looking to address the gap, the Development Camp entitled Road to 2019-2022 was established, drawing in 56 young players aged between 13-18 to train in the high intensity environment.

Helping make the camp a success were team coaches, eight top local players, an accredited International Canoe Federation referee and a large parent support crew.

"We want to give our young athletes better skills which they can then carry through earlier in their sporting career and achieve higher accolades for themselves and New Zealand Canoe Polo," Morritt said.

"We want gold medals across the board."

Hawke's Bay's Kitt McEvoy felt he learnt a lot at the camp and said he would be taking his new-found skills back to his club.

"There was so much to learn, particularly skills to stay motivated if we are losing, changing our shooting motion and the reasons why we do certain tactics in the game."

The 16-year-old has been playing for five years and has set his sights on being a goalie.

"I want to go to the world champs one day and would love to see this sport at the Olympics. It's motivated me to get fitter."

The NZCPA are already conducting selection training camps for this year's yet-to-be-announced teams heading to Canada in July.

Spectators can see what canoe polo is all about at the annual Atahua Cup Tournament, Hokowhitu Lagoon, February 3-4.