Johan Tijssen (54) is the water polo sports coordinator for the WPFG 2021 in Rotterdam. In his daily life, he is a security officer at the detention complex in Tiel, and soon he will be moving to the control room.
How did you find out about the WPFG?
“I heard about the WPFG from Carla Quint. She is a former international water polo player and works for the police. She had heard about the WPFG from Henk Heil, the chairman of the Dutch WPFG."
Why did you sign up to be a sports coordinator for the WPFG?
"For a number of years now, we have been trying, through the Dutch Police Sports Association (NPSB), to breathe new life into the Dutch water polo Championships within the Police and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. This was successful for a number of years, but more recently it has declined a little for various reasons, such as a shortage of staff and difficulty in getting time off. To create a good quality tournament, you really need 5 to 6 teams, but we didn't manage to achieve that. When I heard that the WPFG was going to be organized in the Netherlands, it motivated me to organize it on a large scale."
Why water polo?
"I've been playing this game since I was six years old. I think it's one of the finest sports you can continue to do physically for a relatively long time. I played competitive water polo for 38 years, but due to the well-known shoulder problems with water polo, I was unfortunately forced to quit. I'm still active as a referee at a reasonably high level.
A few years ago, together with a colleague, I looked around to see if there were any acquaintances within the police force who also play water polo. We soon reached eight men in Gelderland-Zuid alone, and later we were joined by Gelderland-Midden and had 18 men and women. Every now and then, we play a game of water polo at the invitation of various clubs. Soon we are going to Szczecin, Poland for a tournament, competing against different countries. That's very enjoyable to do together."
As water polo sports coordinator, what are your responsibilities in the run-up to and during the WPFG?
"Above all, making contacts within the water polo world in the Netherlands. Having and keeping contact with the venue where the swimming and water polo will be held during the Games. Ensuring that there are enough volunteers and officials to manage everything well. And making it clear to the organization that a lot of attention should also be given to sports that are not on the WPFG's standard list, such as water polo. I'm not doing all of this alone, but together with Carla Quint and Jeroen Pruis."
What are you looking forward to most at the WPFG?
"I am looking forward to having three sporting days with Carla and Jeroen with enough teams from home and abroad, so that we can put water polo back on the WPFG's radar."
What's a day at the WPFG going to look like as Water Polo sports coordinator?
"Most of the work is in the preparation. I hope that our preparation work will pay off during the Games, and that we will have a fairly quiet time during the Games so that we can enjoy great games of polo."