What the three Italian Setterosa’s new players Lucrezia Cergol, Sofia Giustini and Dafne Bettini have in common? Well, they’re young, talented and all of them fell in love with waterpolo when they were kids, at the HaBaWaBa International Festival. That was a crucial event in their still short sports careers which all reached a turning point due to the U18 World Championships silver medal in Belgrade last summer. After that, they were put into the Italy senior national team by Setterosa head coach Fabio Conti: Cergol (17 years-old) and Giustini (15, as Bettini) have already made their international debut and the attacker born in 2003 was also able to score a goal against the great Hungary in Europa Cup. “We didn’t expect that”, Trieste young star Lucrezia said. “We believed that Conti would have called us only to let us meet the older teammates”.
Cergol and Giustini are having the same career, but their beginnings in waterpolo were different. “To me it used to be an obligation – Cergol said – my sister Beatrice went to the pool and my parents started to bring me too. Then I discovered the joy of being part of a team and joking during the training sessions. I also found out how much I love to compete: scoring and celebrating a goal are the things I like the most”. That’s something more in common with Giustini. “They often say that I am selfish – Sofia tells us -, but when I receive the ball I like to shoot and I really love to exult: the spectators boost me up and I guess I can transmit that feeling to my whole team. I discovered that in my four editions at HaBaWaBa. Before that, I knew waterpolo because of my older brother Federico, but at that time I was more interested in swimming. When I arrived in Lignano Sabbiadoro in 2011 and I won the U9 tournament with Savona-Arenzano team, I really discovered a new world. I will never forget that Festival: there were mixed teams and I really wanted to prove that I was better than the boys”.
Also Dafne Bettini – the other 15-years old talent in the Italian Setterosa that could debut next Monday against France in Europa Cup – played four editions of HaBaWaBa International Festival. “At HaBaWaBa I was far from home without my parents for the first time in my life – Bettini said – thanks to waterpolo I have known the most important people of my life: I can never forget the time spent with my teammates as Teresa Cocchiere, whom I’m still playing in Bogliasco with. I started playing waterpolo when my father – Daniele, the current coach of Pallanuoto Trieste – transferred from Recco to Bogliasco. I used to practice artistic swimming, he never pushed me to play, but now we spent most of our time speaking about waterpolo. About our sport, I like the anxiety before the game and the desire to win. You need sacrifices in order to emerge, but when you’re a kid waterpolo is only a lot of fun”.
“We would need a HaBaWaBa for the adults as well”, Cergol, who participated in two U11 tournaments in Lignano, said. “Last summer I was at the Festival because a part of my heart had been there. I was able to breathe that magical atmosphere again: I love the final ceremony with thousands of people at the sports palace, because it reminds me how many people love waterpolo, even if it has the same spectators of football. I am very attached to the Festival, I still have the HaBaWaBa towel that the organization usually give to all the little athletes”.
“I still have that too”, Giustini said. Then she reproaches us: “I know that now HaBaWaBa PLUS U13 has an all-female tournament: you could’ve thought of it before! I absolutely want to return to Lignano, there I had the time of my life”. Also Bettini hopes to come back to Lignano (“I celebrated the Bogliasco female team at the HaBaWaBa PLUS U13 last summer, she affirmed”) and then to became an important player of the Italian Setterosa along with Cergol and Giustini. “We want to play the Olympics” Sofia admits. Then she sends a message to all the little players of HaBaWaBa, especially girls: “Follow your dreams, they can really come true“. The word of the three Azzurre which started dreaming at HaBaWaBa.