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The double life of the Sharks captain in the hunt for the game IG News

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Blake Edwards finds the back of the water polo net by night and the best interest rates for mortgage holders by day.

It is a double life typical of many Olympic athletes in sports where the level of funding does not support a full existence.

But the 32-year-old, a self-employed mortgage broker, believes he has improved his form in the pool and extended his career.

Edwards, a business and commerce graduate, played professionally in Montenegro, Brazil and Japan while attending the University of Southern California.

He turned his qualifications into a career when the world came to a standstill in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly built up a client base across Australia that he can service remotely around his sporting commitments.

“The laptop stays open,” he said, adding that his coaches often asked for mortgage advice.

“They really give me that flexibility; I was a little worried that maybe they pulled the reins a little bit.

“But they see that it’s important to have balance and that allows me to play this great game for longer.

Playing cricket 2023-24

“It’s a shame that we’ve lost a lot of really, really talented players in Australia who were at the peak of their careers because they didn’t have the opportunity that I’ve had.”

Edwards and co-captain Nathan Power, a senior adviser at accountancy giant KPMG, will lead a revamped Sharks team into a frenetic 2024 that includes the World Cup in February and the Olympics in July and August.

The team spent the last week in Brisbane, where they defeated the visiting Japanese team 2-1 in a three-game series.

A crowd of nearly 3,000 watched Monday’s shootout victory, stands packed with youngsters competing in the Australian Water Polo Junior Championships, a fine initiative by the state governing body.

It was another tick on the Sharks’ journey to Paris, where they will present themselves as shooters against mighty Europe and the ever-improving United States.

“We’re the underdogs; nobody expects Australia, a really amateur team, to ever beat a European team,” said Edwards, who took over as co-captain with Power in 2022.

“I knew it would be a challenge for us, but I didn’t imagine we would play at the level we did today.

“We drew with Greece, who were runners-up at the (last) Olympic Games and World Champions, we had close games with Montenegro and Italy.

“You have to play every game and believe that you can win it. We are closing the gap very quickly.

“Hopefully I’ll be around long enough to see him reach his peak.”

About half of Australia’s squad plays overseas, including fiery Spanish goalkeeper Nico Porter, who was instrumental in Friday’s decisive win in Brisbane.

But the team will be without the services of former captain and three-time Olympian Aaron Younger, who is regarded as one of the best players in the world and is demanding huge sums from Italian giants Pro Recco.

Tokyo Olympian Edwards, who described Younger’s decision as an “anomaly”, said there were doubts in his mind before committing to Paris.

“There are a lot of challenges, not just for me but for every Australian player,” he said.

“Financial support is pretty minimal and creates gaps in recovery and training, but the guys are making progress in life outside as well.

“Sometimes I doubt it, but the opportunity to represent the country and be the captain … if I turned it down, I would regret it later.”

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