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Player Profile | Oliver Ditz eager to lead Clifton to more silverware

By Avuyile Sawula , in Water Sports | Featured Water Sports | News , at 2024-02-28 Tags: , ,

The Clifton College first team water polo side will, under the leadership of Oliver Ditz, be hunting their second consecutive title of the season when the King Edward VII Water Polo Tournament kicks off in Johannesburg this weekend.

Clifton has, as usual, been one of the most impressive KwaZulu-Natal teams this season, playing an exciting brand of water polo that has attracted viewers to the screens.

Under Coach Paul Martin, the side began their tournament season at the SAC Shield in Makhanda in January, where they finished seventh.

However, they bounced back well to claim top honours recently at the Vides Water Polo Tournament, hosted by Selborne College.

Their skipper, Oliver Ditz, led from the front in East London, and helped his side go on an unbeaten run, which was topped off by a win over Paul Roos Gymnasium in the final, and the title of Player of the Tournament for Ditz.

“It was amazing winning Vides. It’s been a dream of mine to win a national tournament at first team level ever since I started playing water polo,” he told SuperSport Schools in an exclusive interview.

“I think we owe it to Mr Martin and [team manager] Mev Terblanche. Their time and the effort they put into our team deserves that recognition and reward.

“It was a big honour to receive the MVP award, but I was happier to secure the goal medal.”

Ditz’s love for the sport began unexpectedly while he was still in primary school.

He recalls his first encounter with the sport came at the prestigious annual Clifton Water Polo Tournament, where his older brother played.

“I fell in love with water polo, when I was grade 2, in 2014,” he revealed. “My older brother, Noah, played water polo for Clifton and was working at the Clifton tournament. I was at the pool all day, waiting for him to get fetched, and I started running the manual scoreboard.

“I started watching all the Clifton games. The Clifton 2014 first team was one of the best years Clifton ever had, with stars like Nick Downes, Dayne Jagga, Wyatt Edwards, and Gareth May.

“Watching their chemistry, skills, and banter, led me to start playing water polo when I was eight years old, in grade 3.”

Happy days with the Clifton 1st team of 2023 after they clinched the KZN Top 10 title. Oliver Ditz is front and centre, easily identifiable by his wide smile.
Happy days with the Clifton 1st team of 2023 after they clinched the KZN Top 10 title. Oliver Ditz is front and centre, easily identifiable by his wide smile.

The jovial, always-smiling youngster quickly climbed the ranks in the pool when he arrived at Clifton College, in grade eight.

He was selected for the u14A side, and soon donned the green and gold of South Africa at the CANA Championships in Botswana before it was brought to an abrupt stop due to Covid-19 restrictions.

That setback didn’t stop Ditz, as a year later, in grade nine, he made the u15 side, with his performances that year sealing a spot for him in the Stayers’ team, where he eventually received his first senior cap for the school.

Now 18, he has represented KwaZulu-Natal at every age group level at the Inter-Provincial Tournament, while also eclipsing 100 caps for the Clifton first team in his grade 11 year.

“Representing SA at the CANA championships was a big boost in confidence for me,” he said.

“I also represented the country in the u16 World Championships. held in Greece in 2022. It’s also been great playing for KZN every year since grade 6, except for the Covid year.

“However, my biggest achievement and honour is captaining Clifton’s first team and reaching 100 first team caps in grade 11.”

Ditz is not the only player in the Clifton side with over 100 caps. He shares that honour with regular goal scorer, Luc O’Brien, and shot-stopper, Ross Strauss.

The trio now owns more than 120 caps each, and they, together with Head Boy, Ethan Lyne, provide leadership as the Clifton class of 2024 continues the outstanding legacy of water polo at the Durban school.

All of that experience and leadership will be required if coach Martin’s side is to go all the way at KES where they face the very best of South Africa’s water polo-playing schools.

Clifton is drawn in Pool One where they will face the hosts, high-flying Rondebosch Boys High, and Grey High, from Gqeberha.

Clifton's water polo players take the champions' swim at the 2024 Vides Water Polo Tournament.
Clifton’s water polo players take the champions’ swim at the 2024 Vides Water Polo Tournament.

Ditz says the team understands what’s at stake, and despite more opportunities to win silverware later this year, their focus is on KES.

“The whole team is extremely excited for KES, and our goal is gold,” he reckoned.

“The Clifton and SACS tournaments are also going to be huge this year. With such a young side, I feel, with experience and maturity, our team will only improve.

“However, we will definitely give KES a full go,” he concluded.

Clifton Fixtures at the KES Water Polo Tournament

Friday 1 March

16:10- Clifton College vs Rondebosch Boys High
19:30- Clifton College vs Grey High

Saturday 2 March

07:00- Clifton College vs King Edward VII

Avuyile Sawula
error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.