From HaBaWaBa International Festival to the debut with France national team in just 5 years: that’s the amazing rise of Thomas Vernoux, a talent who last week made his first appearance with France in LEN Europa Cup. He played 4 matches and scored 2 goals against Georgia, a very good start for this promise, born in 2002 (he will turn 16 on March 21st) and brought to Marseille’s senior team by Paolo Malara, former head coach of Italian Settebello. “I was lucky to have this chance so young, I think it also depends on my physique”, said Vernoux, who is already 190 cm high. “It was nice to compete with high-level waterpolo players, I played against great teams as Hungary and Romania”.
Less than 5 years ago you were at HaBaWaBa International Festival…
At the time I couldn’t imagine to play for Marseille’s senior team or French national team either. When I was at the Festival I was just dreaming of playing for France, I don’t even know how I was able to do it…
What do you remember about HaBaWaBa International Festival? In 2013 your Marseille was beaten in the U11 final by Savona.
HaBaWaBa is a great international tournament. I remember that game, played in front of thousands people: it was really special.
Do you think that HaBaWaBa increased your love for waterpolo?
At the Festival I discovered the real waterpolo, because I was able to challenge teams from other countries. That discovery was important to understand how much I enjoyed playing and to realize what I would have liked to do in the future.
How do you manage school and training with the senior team at age 15 ?
It’s hard, also because in France we’ve school in the afternoon too. When schoolday is over, I have a 2-hour training with my teammates. It’s challenging, but that’s what I have to do in order to keep playing at high levels.
In French national team you have played as centerforward, however in Marseille you also play in other positions. Which do you prefer?
I just want to play. I often play as center, but I have to be able to perform in other positions too.
Is there a player that inspires you?
I don’t want to imitate anyone, but I have some favorite players: Dusko Pijetlovic and Matteo Aicardi are both great centerforwards, as Ivan Perez was.
At 15 you played with French national team: what do you dream of now?
To win the Olympics and to be the best player of the olympic tournament.
In few months, thousands of kids will arrive in Lignano Sabbiadoro to join the 11th edition of HaBaWaBa International Festival. They’re just like you were in 2013: do you have a message for them?
Believe in your dreams, guys, because anything is possible: never stop dreaming!