On Friday 19th January 42 members of ICSM Water Polo met at West Brompton Station giddy with excitement for our 2018 international tour to Lisbon. The journey to Lisbon was long, and not without hiccups, but eventually we found ourselves in our natural habitat – poolside, ready to face what Lisbon’s university had to offer. Despite this being a friendly match, intended to be just a warm up for the competitive one we had planned for the Saturday, we were faced by Lisbon’s finest water polo players. Our social team stood poolside; intrepid with fear as Lisbon’s ‘friendly’ team rolled out their gym mats and pulled out their resistance bands for a warm-up our 2nd team would consider a full-on workout. Nonetheless our social members pulled through and played their best. As this was a friendly match – intended as just a preliminary training session for Saturday – the score for this match was not recorded. As the social members played our first team trained on the other end of the pool.

After training we ventured back to our hostel, where we greeted by some lovely staff who gave us pizza and sangria which was much needed! We then ventured as a team to the bars as a team social in exploring some of Lisbon’s famous nightlife.

The team awoke on the Saturday excited to play, the hostel provided a large complimentary breakfast and our first team took the opportunity to carb load. We then had a few hours before we needed to travel back to the pool. Many members of the team took the opportunity to go for a short walk and explore the local area, while others napped and prepared for the game.

The game commenced shortly after 1pm and we played in running quarters. Despite a strong lead of 2-0 in the first five minutes of the game we soon realised our team was exhausting quickly and that subbing in and out was crucial to ensure our team didn’t tire too much. Despite the change in tactics by the end of the first quarter the score was a draw at 2-2.

A quick team chat in between quarters about subbing tactics and ensuring we swum back quickly when the ball changed hands helped to change the game around for a minute or two as we scored and were playing well; however the Lisbon team were strong and were putting up a good fight so by the halfway mark the game had turned around with a score of 7-3 to Lisbon.

The social team from the sidelines begun to cheer, and their support kept the morale high. One of our alumni, Laurence Suckling, then made a surprise appearance in the viewing area and we knew we then had to give our best and not lose hope.

The first few minutes of the third quarter were uneventful with neither team scoring or conceding. Then in our possession Laurence begun to chant “Leo..Leo” and Leo, spurred on by the support, swum up and was passed the ball, making an amazing goal to win title of man of the match. The excitement was short lived as we finished the quarter with a score of 10-4 to Lisbon.

The final quarter we were determined to put up a strong fight and we played strong until the end. Even though the final score was 15-9 to Lisbon we ended the game in high spirits as we knew we had played really well against a very strong and prepared team.

Following a photo the social team were keen to jump in and play from where we left off the previous day; the first teams were exhausted and keen to shower for our evening social with Lisbon. Later that evening we met the Lisbon team at a restaurant where we enjoyed a three course meal and wine with the team. We discussed waterpolo – and of course less serious matters – before heading back to the bars with Lisbon’s team as our guide. We returned in the early hours and enjoyed a long and much needed lie in on the Sunday.

On Sunday we had originally planned some land-based training. However as many of our team were feeling worse for wear we decided to do a long walk as a team and stretch out our muscles from the previous days. We walked from the hostel to Lisbon’s famous Oceanarium.

In the evening we had planned a team bonding activity – Bubble Football!

This was really fun and a great opportunity for our social team and our firsts team to bond and play in mixed groups. It involved us playing football while in a Zorbing ball. It was incredibly tiring and definitely compensated for our failed gym set in the morning.

On Monday morning, we packed up and got prepared to leave. We travelled to the Lisbon Time Out market and enjoyed a large meal together where we could discuss the events of tour – the biggest tour we have ever been on, and our most successful to date!