Former two-time Olympian Rebecca Rippon is the new Australia women’s national team head coach, Water Polo Australia has confirmed.
In a landmark move that sees the former Australian international become the first female head coach of the senior national team, Rippon, 44, takes over from Paul Oberman – who has stepped down from the role he held for just over two years due to personal reasons.
Rippon will now lead the Aussie Stingers at the Paris Olympics next summer, with the bronze medalist from the 2008 Beijing games having played in the last Stingers side to clinch a medal at the Olympic Games.
The former Vouliagmeni, Balmain Tigers, and Cronulla Sharks star made over 266 appearances for the Australian national team. Prior to taking on the head coach role, Rippon had been serving as Paul Oberman’s assistant coach, as well as an assistant to Oberman’s predecessor Predrag Mihailovic.
Speaking with Water Polo Australia, Rippon said:
“I feel extremely honored to be in this position and I just can’t wait to start working with the staff and players in the lead-up to the World Championships and the Paris Olympics. I am proud but also humbled to be the first female Head Coach of the Olympic team. I am aware that I am in this position now, but that there are many strong female coaches who are giving so much to our sport in many squads and programs around the country. I have worked with this group across many different campaigns, and the exciting part is that they are driven and motivated. The main focus for us is determining who we are in the pool and out of the pool. We can zone in and work hard on who we are as the Aussie Stingers and the way that we want to play the game. We want to work hard on that so we can stay true to those areas no matter what we come up against.”
Having been part of two Olympic Games as a player, and one as an assistant coach, Rippon knows firsthand what the players are about to face over the next eight months.
“I have lived experience in what they are going through and what they are about to go through. I understand what it feels like to be in their positions as they go through everything over the next eight months.
“It is going to be hard physically and mentally as they fight for selection individually yet being pushed to work together to produce our best water polo.”
Australia secured their Olympic qualification in August, and finished 4th at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka.
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