Water polo: Singapore men’s head coach Kan Aoyagi takes over as technical director

SINGAPORE – National men’s coach Kan Aoyagi will double up as the Singapore Swimming Association’s water polo technical director, the SSA announced on Monday (March 21).

The new appointment took effect on March 1.

SSA vice-president for water polo Dominic Soh said: “Kan has been able to immerse quickly and has already established a strong relationship with the national men’s team as well as with the management and the other national coaches.

“He possesses lots of experience and is innovative. Having been intimately involved in the development of our plans in the past year, we concluded that it was best for Kan to assume the technical director’s role to maintain our momentum in pursuing our goals.”

Aoyagi replaces Paul Oberman, who left the SSA in November to return to Australia to tend to his wife, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Oberman was then appointed Australia’s women’s water polo coach.

Aoyagi said he was pleased and honored with the added responsibility, and added: “I have been able to work well with the men’s national team and good progress has been made.

“This is possible with the help of the management as well as the water polo community, even though Covid-19 has limited me from doing much more than I hoped to.

“Since last year, all of us at Singapore water polo have spent a lot of time strengthening our plans to enhance water polo in Singapore as a whole. I believe that together with the swimming and water polo community, we can build a unique and strong water polo development system that cannot be imitated by any other country. “

The SSA shared that as technical director, Kan will focus on several key areas including the development of a systematic and relevant training program for national teams and enhancing the competencies of local coaches.

Aoyagi, who was formerly Japan’s national captain, had been appointed national men’s water polo coach in March 2021 and managed to restructure the team from 14 senior players and 25 youth development players to two teams of senior national players, one team of players in the National Service and university, and an Under-17 youth development squad of 87 players.

The 41-year-old also created a new high-performance league within the national men’s set-up to enable player and coach development, and to form a selection pool for competitions like the Asian Games, SEA Games and World University Games.

Training times have also been modified to ensure more training-life balance for national players who have work and family commitments, and for players who are still studying.

Water polo has been dropped for the May 12-23 SEA Games, but the SSA’s target for the Sept 10-25 Asian Games remains for the men’s national team to equal or better the sixth-placed finish they achieved in Jakarta in 2018.

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