Hedland Water Polo Association president Brad Pawlenko will leave behind a flourishing junior league and powerful women’s competition when he steps down from his leadership role after four years fostering the club’s growth. Mr Pawlenko, pictured, said work and family commitments would become his priority but he would continue to be a passionate supporter of “Hedland’s coolest sport”. “I really enjoyed being the president of an association because I felt like all those years of water polo and that knowledge, it was my time to step up and help out,” he said. The sporting leader said he was excited when he took on the role of president in 2017, after years of representing the sport at the State level. Mr Pawlenko was responsible for the growth of the junior Flippa Ball competition which boasts the biggest participation in the State. In 2019, his committee became the first to host the country championships in South Hedland. Mr Pawlenko said making the club a welcoming environment for all was his top priority. “One thing I wanted to do when I first set out as president was to make sure Hedland Water Polo was an inclusive family friendly environment so it doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, it doesn’t matter what skill set you are, you are welcome to come down and try,” he said. “It’s not a mainstream sport so making sure everyone felt welcome was what the previous committees and I really set out to achieve. “That’s built over nine years including the growth of Flippa Ball which is the lifeblood of water polo — without juniors you don’t have seniors.” Mr Pawlenko thanked the local community and Town of Port Hedland for aiding the development of the association in recent years. He said the club’s success was testament to passionate locals who continued to support the club in and out of the water.