Water Polo is one of the fastest and toughest team sports, which can be best described as a combination of swimming, handball, football, rugby and wrestling. A team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper and the aim of the game resembles that of football: to score as many goals as possible, each goal being worth one point.
The first university men's Water Polo tournament was played at the 3rd International Summer Sports Week in Dortmund in 1953. Since then, student players from all over the world enjoyed to compete under the FISU five stars. As far as numbers go, Water Polo steadily increased from one Universiade to the next. Whereas seven teams participated in the first edition in 1959 in Torino (ITA), two pools of four (4) teams participated in the Summer Universiade in Sofia (BUL) in 1961, just a decade before reaching twelve teams in 1973 in Moscow (RUS). An additional boost came in the nineties with an increasing level of participation. Of particular interest was the final match between the United States and the outsider team of China during the 91 Universiade in Sheffield, being resolved just six seconds before the end of extra time, with the US carrying off their second university title.
The successful path of Water Polo continued throughout the new millennium with Montenegro and Serbia immediately arriving at the top after the break-up of Yugoslavia.
This progress and popularity of men's Water Polo also led to an increasing development of women's Water Polo. In 2000 the women's tournament made its debut during the Sydney Olympics, enabling the Executive Committee of FISU to also include an eight teams' tournament into the compulsory programme of the World University Games. The first edition of the women's tournament was played in Belgrade in 2009, enjoying great popularity.
The Water Polo tournaments shall be organised in accordance with the most recent technical regulations of the "Fédération Internationale de Natation" (FINA). The programme and duration of the competition will be fixed by the Executive Committee in agreement with the Organising Committee and the CTI. In principle, the competitions will last thirteen (13) days maximum and will include:
one (1) men's tournament: sixteen (16) teams maximum;
one (1) women's tournament: eight (8) teams maximum.
Each country selected is authorised to enter one (1) team of thirteen (13) players. Countries participating in the Water Polo tournament must bring with their delegation and at their own cost, one (1) international FINA referee.