National Development League Announced by USA Water Polo

New York Athletic Club (NYAC)

A national development water polo league is returning to the US.

Seven years (or so) after the demise of the Premier League, USA Water Polo’s former attempt at an elite competitive men’s league, the organization today announced the formation of its new National League. The new entity will begin operations in 2015 as men’s national team coach Dejan Udovicic indicated in a December 2013 interview.

Five or six teams will be created via a draft of 50 athletes invited by USAWP. The Olympic Club and New York Athletic Club will field teams made up of players they recruit themselves.

Players and teams are unlikely to be compensated since the league “is in compliance” with NCAA rules, according to USAWP.

Details as released by the organization:

A new challenge has arrived for the best of the best in domestic men’s water polo. In early 2015 USA Water Polo will launch the inaugural National League, an endeavor designed to provide high level competition opportunities for the top men’s water polo players in the United States, with a focus on developing talent for the USA Water Polo Men’s National Team. Four weekends of competition will begin on January 10 and 11 in Southern California and conclude with a championship event on April 11 and 12 in Northern California. The National League, which is in compliance with both the USOC and NCAA, will feature between five and six teams all coached by National Team coaches. Approximately 50 athletes will be invited to participate in the National League and will be dispersed among the competing teams through a draft format. USA Water Polo member clubs, the Olympic Club and New York Athletic Club will also compete in the National League with rosters of their choosing.

“The inaugural Men’s National League will provide a forum of competition for our potential men’s national team athletes to continue their development and training leading up to our 2015 Olympic qualifying event, the Pan American Games in Toronto,” said John Abdou, USA Water Polo High Performance Director.

“We see this as the starting point of building a league in America where we not only develop our talent, but showcase the great game of water polo. The future of the league is limitless but we must start with what is most needed, and that is a development ground for our top athletes,” added Dejan Udovicic, USA Water Polo Men’s Senior National Team Head Coach.

In addition to the January 10 and 11 competition, the National League will also hold matches on February 7 and 8 in Northern California, and March 7 and 8 in Southern California, leading up to the National League Championship April 11 and 12 in Northern California.

The National League will use round robin play and a point system for standings (4 points win, 3 points shootout win, 2 points shootout loss, 1 point for loss, 0 for forfeit). Teams will compete against each other on Saturday and Sunday of each competition weekend prior to April. In the National League Championship scheduled for April teams will be seeded first to last and play out a championship bracket tournament.

Those athletes not invited will have an opportunity to attend an open tryout in mid-December at a date and location to be announced. More information on the open tryout will be available soon.