History of Water Polo
The history of water polo as a team sport began as a demonstration of strength and swimming skill in late 19th century England and Scotland, where water sports and racing exhibitions was a feature of county fairs and festivals. Men's water polo was among the first team sports introduced at the modern Olympic games in 1900. Water polo is now popular in many countries around the world, notably Europe (particularly in Serbia, Russia, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Greece and Hungary), the United States, Canada and Australia. The present-day game involves teams of seven players (plus up to six substitutes), with a water polo ball similar in size to a soccer ball but constructed of waterproof nylon.
One of the earliest recorded antecedents of the modern game of Water Polo was a game of water ‘hand-ball’ played at Bournemouth on 13 July 1876. This was a game between 12 members of the Premier Rowing Club, with goals being marked by four flags placed in the water near to the midpoint of Bournemouth Pier. The game started at 6.00pm in the evening and lasted for 15 minutes (when the ball burst) watched by a large crowd; with plans being made for play on a larger scale the following week.
The rules of water polo were originally developed in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain by William Wilson. Wilson is believed to have been the First Baths Master of the Arlington Baths Club in Glasgow. The first games of 'aquatic football' were played at the Arlington in the late 1800s (the Club was founded in 1870), with a ball constructed of India rubber. This "water rugby" came to be called "water polo" based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu. Early play allowed brute strength, wrestling and holding opposing players underwater to recover the ball; the goalie stood outside the playing area and defended the goal by jumping in on any opponent attempting to score by placing the ball on the deck.