Ratko Rudic is watching the U9 game between Italian Latina and Brazilian Asda Baura as it was an Olympic final. For decades he has always felt the same passion for waterpolo, therefore there is no difference to him in watching great champions or little children playing. The four time Olympic champion and legendary Croatian coach has arrived at the HaBaWaBa International Festival, causing great excitement in coaches and fans, but also in children.
“HaBaWaBa is the beginning of something important – explains Rudic, who is also councillor of Waterpolo Development – Here the passion for waterpolo arises: some of these kids will become waterpolo players, some of them referees, others spectators who will remain passionate to our sport. Waterpolo arises at HaBaWaBa”.
How important is to start playing waterpolo at the age from 6 to 11?
It’s extremely important. It’s thanks to HaBaWaBa if nowadays, around the world, kids start playing waterpolo when they are 6. Now we know that children of that age are able to memorize some movements and to understand properly the game. They learn to do things they will do automatically for the rest of their lives. At HaBaWaBa we build the foundation of the waterpolo of the future. Furthermore, HaBaWaBa is very important culturally.
Are you talking about the opportunity to kids to compare with peers coming from different countries?
Sport is a very important element of the society, as also the EU White Paper has stated. It can develop values such as tolerance and solidarity. In sports there is always competition, but also respect for the opponent. In addition, we have the health component: doing sports so soon helps children to grow healthy and it allows the public health system to save a huge amount of money.
Currently you are a technical consultant of Croatian Federation. What do you think about the bronze medal won by Barakuda in the last World League?
Croatia played good, they lost against Italy just at shootouts. However the most important thing is to prepare well for the Budapest World Championships. We were unlucky because of the Sandro Sukno’s injury: I don’t know yet if he will play in Budapest.
How do you judge Italy and Serbia?
Settebello showed the usual organized game. Serbia looked tired: we will see them at their best in Budapest.
In Budapest, during the Fina Congress, the new waterpolo regulation will also be voted.
We coaches have always been against this reform for a specific reason: it has never been supported by any technical proof, no data has been collected about these new rules. I think they will only damage waterpolo.
Meanwhile, IOC have already included 11-player rosters in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program.
It must be made clear that the IOC has just approved what was proposed by FINA. FINA reduced the number of waterpolo players in order to instert more swimming competitions. It’s a bad decision and waterpolo community will oppose it. We’re open to cooperate with FINA, but not this way.