Before we follow the Aussie Stingers to Russia for the FINA World Cup, we turn our attention to the Australian Born 2000 (B2000) Women’s Youth team, who have been on their own European tour ahead of the FINA Youth World Championships, which kick-offs today (27 August - 2 September) in Belgrade, Serbia.

Click here for full tournament information.

As part of their preparations, the Aussies took part in a local tournament in Hungary where they claimed the silver medal. Next up, was a training camp in Greece with the Greek Youth team ahead of the Pythia Cup, where they finished in 5th. The final stop was training camp in Serbia ahead of the Championships.

The Aussies have been placed in Group B alongside Uzbekistan, Greece, and Brazil. With the team having been on an action packed schedule of training camps and local tournaments, the experience they have gained will invaluable as it will have given them the opportunity to acclimatise to the European style of play.

The team are being guided by Head Coach Dusan Damjanovic, who has played for the likes of Partizan, Serbia, Pro Recco, Italy and Canottieri Napoli, Italy in the 90’s, and by Assistant Coach ‘Golden Girl’ Deb Watson (Sydney 2000 Gold Medallist) who says there is a great feeling within the team and they are looking to come away with a positive result.

“I have strong expectations for this group, they have (really) matured in the last 12 months. They train really hard, they’re great girls and I hope they can enjoy this experience” said Watson.

TWG caught up with some of the team while they were still in camp with the NSW Institute of Sydney before the final team selection took place.

Speaking to Sydney Northern Beaches Juniors, Matilda ‘Tilly’ Kearns, Hayley Ballesty & Izzy Pamp, who have come through the junior ranks together, say it is amazing to be able to share this experience together.

“It’s really special to be chosen to represent Australia, but when you can do it beside girls who you started playing with when you were 12, makes it so much more special,” says Ballesty.

Kearns adds that “it just makes training so much easier as well. In goals, I know that Izzy has my back, and I know that when I’m out the top on the perimeter and Hayley is in centre-back I know I’m safe. I know how they both play, so we just bounce off each other.”

While the squad was primarily made up of athletes that are Born 2000 & 2001, the youngest player to have been selected in the team is UTS Balmain athlete Nioka Thomas (Born 2003).

Speaking to Thomas, “it is an amazing achievement (to be selected in a squad several age groups above her own) and all the girls have been really inviting and (I feel) I’ve melded in well”.

Alongside Thomas as the youngest at the camp was B2002 athlete, Macy Hansford who hails from rival club Drummoyne. When asked about the cross-bridge rivalry as well as positionally (both girls play in the centre-forward position) Thomas says that a bit of friendly rivalry is good.

“We’re friends, so we’ve overcome the difficulties and we would both be happy if either one of us made it (the team), it’s just great experience”.

Keep in touch with both Australian teams and how their Youth World Cup campaigns are tracking by following WPA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or via

Australia's Matches:
Day 1: Monday 27 August - vs Uzbekistan @ 1020 local time (1820 AEST)
Day 2: Tuesday 28 August - vs Brazil @ 0900 local time (1700 AEST)
Day 3: Wednesday 29 August - vs Greece @ 2040 local time (30 August @ 0440 AEST)
Day 4-7: 30 August - 2 September (post group stage)

Australian Born 2000 Women’s Team

Abby Andrews (Brisbane Barracudas, QLD)
Charlize Andrews (Polo Bears, QLD)
Hayley Ballesty (Sydney Northern Beaches, NSW)
Kasey Dalziel (Polo Bears, QLD)
Lily Hawthorn (Sydney University, NSW)
Matilda ‘Tilly’ Kearns (Sydney Northern Beaches, NSW)
Sophie Milliken (Polo Bears, QLD)
Maisie Newell (Sunshine Coast, QLD)
Jamie Oberman (Triton, WA)
Ruby Swadling (UNSW Wests, NSW)
Nioka Thomas (UTS Balmain, NSW)
Carla Traplin (Sydney University, NSW)
Alyssa West (FYFE Adelaide Jets, SA)


Head Coach: Dusan Damjanovic
Assistant Coach / Team Manager: Debbie Watson
Physiotherapist: Emma Sulley
Referee: Daniel Bartels