At its 10th edition, HaBaWaBa International Festival will have the honour to host Galatasaray, the most important sports club in Turkey. They will join the event with two teams, participating both at the 11U tournament. Coach Murat Numanoglu will lead the Turkish delegation.
Coach Numanoglu, at last Galatasaray join the HaBaWaBa International Festival.
We were invited even 8 years ago and since then I think this event is very interesting. Unfortunately at that time we could not participate. This year, instead, everything is ok: we have a group of 22 kids born in 2006 and 2007 that are ready for an experience as HaBaWaBa International Festival. And even our managers and players’ parents agreed to send us to Lignano.
What do you expect for Galatasaray?
HaBaWaBa is the biggest competition for little waterpolo players in the world, it will be an important experience to our kids. They will become better players, special players.
How many kids the Galatasaray Academy has?
We have 150 players. In Galatasaray kids start playing waterpolo at the age of 9 or 10, but there are few clubs that can do the same in Turkey. Children usually start playing at the age of 11 and the first national competition is dedicated to the 12U players. Therefore HaBaWaBa is a great opportunity to our team, also to compare with teams from other countries.
Galatasaray is a big sports club. Do your players also practice any other disciplines?
Yes, they do. They play basketball, football or they swim. However after HaBaWaBa International Festival I’m sure that all of them will keep playing water polo.
In recent years Turkish waterpolo clubs tried to improve by hiring great champions and coaches, such as Igor Milanovic. However, waterpolo does not seem able to have a real success in your country. Why?
Because of the school system. Few kids are able to commit themselves to an difficult sport as waterpolo. At age of 13, they have to take a very challenging exam, so they often leave waterpolo: when they come back to the pool after a year, they are forced to start over with the swimming and the basic skills. Istanbul is also a very large, chaotic city, where the cost of living is high: it is not easy to attend the swimming pool. Because of that, you can’t have very good senior players. HaBaWaBa International Festival could boost my players to not give up the waterpolo.
What do you expect as coach from HaBaWaBa International Festival?
I expect to see high-level games, but also to meet and to talk with other coaches from different countries. As for the tournament, we can win or lose, but living the atmosphere of a great international event is the most important thing to all of us, coaches and players.