NOT even a dislocated finger could stop talented Bendigo teen Lily Pridham from dominating the Victorian water polo junior club championships over the long weekend.
After popping her left pointer finger in the opening game, the youngster played through the pain and starred for her Essendon team.
She was rewarded for her efforts by being named the player of the tournament in her under-14 age group.
“I thought I played okay,” Lily said of the MVP honour, “but I knew I was a bit off my game because the injury made it a bit of a struggle.
“It was very sore and we strapped it up pretty tight and I just hopped in the pool and tried to avoid using my left hand as much as I could.
“Every stroke I took, though, I could feel the pressure on my finger.”
Not only was Lily in action in the under-14s at the carnival in Albury, she also represented Essendon in the under-16 competition.
Neither of her teams made the finals, but she still ended up playing nine matches for the weekend.
Lily has been a member of the state under-14 water polo squad for the past two years and was vice-captain in 2013.
She is the youngest of three Strathfieldsaye sisters - and both older siblings Molly and Bonnie have also represented Victoria.
The Catholic College Bendigo year eight student has been training hard to make the team again for the annual East Coast Challenge, a state-versus-state event that will this year be held in Adelaide during the mid-year school holiday break.
If she is selected, she would be a strong contender to captain the side.
Mum Sally Livermore said Lily’s performance at the state club titles was typical of her character.
“She’s very tough,” Ms Livermore said.
“She dislocated her finger in the first game and she sat out the next one but came back and played all the other matches.
“Lucky it was her left hand - we’d have been in trouble if it was her right one, which she uses to catch and throw.”
Lily, 14, plays water polo throughout summer in Bendigo, where dad Bruce Pridham is president of the local association.
But her commitment to the sport sees her travel regularly to Melbourne for competition and training sessions.
Her Essendon team sits on top of the Water Polo Victoria under-14 girls ladder, with one game left before sub-junior finals begin.
The winter season competition starts in April, when Lily will play up to three games a week for the club’s under-16, under-18 and A-grade women’s teams.
She also has several major tournaments pencilled in her calendar throughout 2014.
“I have got the under-14 club national championships in Melbourne in these school holidays coming up,” she said.
“Then I hope to be going to Adelaide in the middle holidays for the East Coast Challenge, which is with the Victorian team.
“The under-16 national club championship are on in the September holidays, and they are in Canberra.”
Lily was also approached about playing at the Australian under-18 club titles with Essendon and she was keen, but her parents thought she had enough on her plate.