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Water polo: Hungarian girls to prove there is life after 30

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The 17th FINA Masters World Championships will not only be quite populous (the expected number of participating teams has reached the limit of 120), but its high quality is also guaranteed for instance by world and European champion Hungarian women water polo players who aim at repeating their achievements of previous elite world tournaments this time in the Masters category. Mood report from future protagonists.

We have reported earlier that former world class Hungarian women water polo players will also participate in the 17th FINA Masters World Championships. They have been tuning for the World Championships, so much so that some of them joined the second division of the Hungarian championship.

Moreover, some of them claimed champion title with TVE team this May, while others clinched silver with BVSC.

Former world champion, European championships silver medallist Ágnes Kis-Primász played, too, who talked about how much the World Champs of August mean to her:

„A great opportunity to return to the international field of water polo, to professional sport, to situations of high stakes, and of course to former companions. The Masters World Championships mean this to me. I was looking forward to an opportunity like this. Although we did have a chance to test ourselves again three years ago at the European Champs, but the field was rather weak then. I am glad that the team will come together again. We are not working so hard yet, but our training will be quite intense preparing directly for the Championships. I expect that in a short time such a team will be formed in which the leading figure may be altered at every match. I may take up this role as well as the others, we do want to do our best and take the tournament seriously” – said Ágnes Kis-Primász.

Another world champion, Orsolya Szalkay-Doroszlai achieving victory in 1994 (goalkeeper of BVSC ob I/B) is also dedicated and wishes to show a good example for new generations promoting the idea not to stop doing sport ever.

„We are planning to go through a five-week preparation, but till then we all attend the swimming pool every now and then either with ob I/B teams or else. We entered the Masters European Championships 4 years ago and we intended to go to Trieste last year, but many of us have more kids and as a mother it is not easy to leave everything behind for a while.  This time it was obvious that we would enter the World Champs. I am not young any more. Although it may be somewhat easier to resume as a goalkeeper, it is not an option for anyone to stop doing sport. I cannot leave the swimming pool behind, my daughter is here as a member of the squad and my son is also very talented. It is worth doing any sport even if one’s approaching the age of 50. We do not yet know what kind of teams are attending the World Champs, in our team ages vary between 31 and 49 but I believe we are and will be good. The goal is to become world champions, of course” – said Orsolya Szalkay-Doroszlai, whose daughter, Vanda has already played in the national team’s squad.

Speaking about the national team...

Barbara Ipacs, the better half of Attila Bíró, head coach of the European champion women’s national team will also participate in the Masters:

„This summer will be rather busy, we have a one-year-old son, it is hard to arrange his supervision all this time. Our summer with Attila will somewhat coincide but we will sometimes be separated for a while, too. We will cheer the Hungarian team at the World Championships and afterwards I hope we can prove there is life after the age of 30. We thrive to demonstrate to future generations that goals and inspiration are independent of age.”

„It is important to put more emphasis on the dynamics. I still know the tactics in my mind but my body needs to warm up for the game. Ob I/B matches help us to gain momentum for the preparations in summer” – added Barbara Ipacs, who enjoys full support of Attila Bíró.

Photo: Péter Bartha

„I take my hat off to her. I used to play, too, so I know how hard this sport is without intensive training. My advice to her is to train as much as possible. Nevertheless, with the extensive experience they have I believe the team has a good chance of winning. They may surprise even young players, so I am very curious about the Championships and it goes without saying that I will be there, sitting on the grandstands.” – said Attila Bíró.

European champion Laura Gruber, assistant coach to the first division team of BVSC and head coach of the second one has been involved in matches all year round and believes it might be an advantage for her now.

„Concerning gaining experience it is definitely an advantage that I am working actively so I will enter the Championships in good form. Each match adds something new to one’s tactical tool kit. We wish that this event would be about hard work as well as fun. We don’t yet know how strong the filed will be. The only thing we have heard about is that the US is delegating a strong team. It will not be a piece of cake for sure but we intend to go through these two weeks with a lot of joy and we don’t want to be dead serious about the Champs. Currently everyone is preparing on their own but from June we will meet 3-4 times a week” – summarised Laura Gruber, who is convinced that the tournament will be a great experience for all, in water and on the ground alike.  

The team will represent Budakalász at the Master Championships because of the sponsorship. The team has been pulled together by Júlia Boros.

„Fortunately there are brilliant players in Hungary so it was quite easy to make a team. We are home, this is our audience and we can’t wait to show our skills. Many of us work as coaches and we would like to prove young generations that we „oldies” can play not only issue commands from the ground. The atmosphere is guaranteed by outstanding players of great accomplishments at previous World Championships, European Championships and Olympics. No need for more.”

The girls invited Lajos Györe to be their head coach for the Masters. As the coach of the club he has already worked with all the girls practically.  

„The girls started talking me into accepting their request as early as September but I said yes to them only in mid-January. I love all the team members and I understood their point claiming that they would prefer to work with someone they have known for long rather than with a stranger who would not necessarily treat them the way they are used to. I know the girls well, they did a good job in ob I/B, too. No need to worry about their physical condition, there is plenty of time left, they will endure hard work and we will have a great time playing. If someone is over 36 and retired from sport this is an opportunity not to miss. Everyone shall be proud of their achievements. We can be envious of the girls who love each other as well as sport and water polo” – said the coach about the girls’ mission.

The water polo tournament of the Masters Championships will commence on 7 August in Hajós Alfréd National Swimming Stadium.