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© David Damnjanovic

History has been written

At first I would like to apologize to you. I said that it is going to be 12,000 people on one water polo game and I was wrong. According to the organisation of the European Championships water polo in Belgrade 2016 the number of specatators that watched final match was 18,473. It is a new record for one water polo game. So history has been written, in Belgrade, on the 23th of January in 2016.



Photo: Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia.

I think these were the very best two weeks for water polo. We saw that water polo has its audience. Not just in the semis or finals but the rest of the games were pretty occupied with spectators as well. That is the sign that people like water polo. After a long time in Serbia I saw parents with their children on the matches. And not just at matches that Serbia played against Croatia or Montenegro but on the matches of other national teams. That means that they enjoyed the show, they felt good at the Arena and that is what water polo needs. Even though the capacity was more than 12,000 seats, for some matches it wasn’t enough. On the other way some countries played European Championship for the first time. This is the big step not just for these guys but for the water polo in their country. The water polo market is small and we need things like this to make the sport popular in many countries. When I say popular I mean more countries where water polo is a professional sport, not just amateur. At this moments I see that in many countries water polo is going to be an amateur sport and that worries me. Some things need to be done. The Championship in Belgrade showed that water polo has the material that can be worked with. It just needs creative ideas from creative people, who like this sport and who want that its flame burns on.

The number of specatators isn’t the only thing where history was written. As Serbia won the title, the three guys from Serbia national team became the first three man who won five! European Championship titles. Their names are Zivko Gocic, Slobodan Nikic and Filip Filipovic. Their first was in Kranj (Slovenia) in 2003, when Filipovic was only 16 years old. After that they won in Belgrade (2006), Eindhoven (2012), Budapest (2014) and now in Belgrade (2016). As they are my very good friends I wish them not to stop here.


Photo: Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia.

For me this was one of hardest championships that I have ever played. When I say that, I don’t think physicaly but mentally. It is very hard to play at home one big tournament such as the European Champioship. Everywhere you go people come to you and want to talk to you. Your friends call you and ask for the tickets all the time. It is very hard to concentrate just on water polo, on your job, especially when you are favourite number one for winning the title. Everyone expects you to take that gold medal. Just to go out there and beat the opponent with five goals difference. That is not so easy, in fact it is very hard. Then there is the media who make it all even harder for you. When you don’t beat somebody with a big difference they immidiately start wondering what is wrong with you, wonder whether everything is ok. The opponents go into a match against you without stress. If they lose, nobody will say anything to them, but if they play good and win, they will be the heroes. Ok, I am not complaining, just saying it is very hard. But the hardest things are the sweetest, right?

Anyway, now when all this is over, when we got a new Euro Champion in female category, when we got one more team in male category that qualified for the Rio Olympics, when we had 14 days of great water polo and the new record of number of people that have attended one match, we can say that the winner is – WATER POLO !

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