Those visiting the 17th FINA World Masters Championships after the 17th FINA World Championships will get to see some iconic players. Hajós Alfréd Swimming Stadium will stage the tournament of iconic players, the place where the career of these legendary players began and continued. There are several water polo dynasties in Hungary, sons often inherited the love for water polo as well as outstanding skills from their fathers. It is quite unique when members of two generations can be part of the „great team” during their active sporting years. Kásás family is one like that, the fact that in August both players will enter the Masters Championships – the greatest sporting event in the history of Hungary- clearly demonstrates their love for water polo.
Initiated by probably the most popular Hungarian new age water polo player, three-time Olympic champion, Tamás Kásás the Masters Championships will feature a Hungarian water polo team (entering the 40+ category) which consists exclusively of (one-, two- and three-time) Olympic champions. Concerning the outstanding results from 2000, 2004 and 2008 there are plenty of such players and their appearance at the Masters tournament will be a curiosity (and privilege) not only for Hungarian spectators but also for the other teams in the category and the whole community of water polo players.
Photos: Sandor Dobos
„True, the public thinks it was me who suggested entering the tournament. I don’t mind if people associate me with this idea. When we learnt that Budapest would host the World Masters Championships it seemed quite obvious that entering together again would be a great thing. All my former teammates were keen on the idea and realised that it would bring us together again” – said Tamás Kásás, whose life is by now less focused on water polo since the London Olympics compared to other members of the gold generation.
„Now that I have started training I feel really good because I am my own coach. For 30 years I was always told what to do. It feels great that now it is all up to me” – he said in connection with the preparation.
Tamás Kásás last played in the 50m pool at Hajós Alfréd Swimming Stadium on 17 July, 2012 at the final match of the Vodafone Cup prior to the London Olympics. Back then Hungary played Australia and Kásás contributed to Hungary’s 8-4 victory by 2 goals.
Since he retired from sport the general public could see him playing twice only, he participated in a gala match in November, 2014 staged in Debrecen at the initiation of Tamás Varga, secondly, he played in Eger in October, 2016 at the farewell match of another three-time Olympic champion, Péter Biros.
What about his father, Zoltán Kásás who will enter the Masters tournament this August in an international team, called Blue Thunder?
„When did I last play water polo on Margaret Island? It is a good question, indeed, but if I am not mistaken it was in 1976 when I last played in the 50m pool at Hajós Alfréd Swimming Stadium. I must say all my friends, professionals involved in water polo as well as guests coming here I have talked to agree that water polo has a really unique atmosphere in the 50m pool at Hajós” – said Zoltán Kásás, who swims every single day but does not remember when he last held a ball in his hands.
He definitely did in 2000 when his team at the time, Budapest Seniors won the World Masters Championships in Munich. In fact, that time they defended their title since the team had won the previous tournament of 1998 in Casablanca, as well.
„That team featured former national champion players and members of the national team including poor Jani Steinmetz, „Öcsi” Magas and Olympic champion Laci Sárosi. That was quite a team, over 50 already, and it was an interesting experience to play in the pool in Munich where we had played at the 1972 Olympics. Quite frankly I am a bit afraid now because we definitely need to pull ourselves together, it has been a long-long time since I last played and I guess much is expected from me. In the water we cannot put our hands on the hip. There we must swim, no question, even if it is quite slow motion now. Maybe I will ask my son’s team to let me in for a training, even if only at the side of the pool” gold medallist at the first FINA World Championships in Beograd (1973) and silver medallist of the Munich Olympics Zoltán Kásás said humorously. He was last a world (masters) champion exactly in the same year when his son, Tamás won his first Olympic gold.
The field of this year’s water polo tournament is complete now, the maximum headcount limit (120 teams) was reached before the registration period terminated. The team of Zoltán Kásás will enter the highest age group, 70+ category. Their application was initiated by an Australian friend of his, Zoltán Kásás is the only Hungarian member, beside him the team will feature Australian, American, Italian and Slovakian players. As a matter of fact, training will begin in Pöstyén, Slovakia at the beginning of August and the tournament will commence on 7 August.
„It will be interesting to see daddy in the water. If I can survive my matches, I will go to the grandstands and cheer him, of course. I will check him out” – said Tamás Kásás, who informed that the members of their Olympic champion team are training on their own as of now.
„It is rather hard to gather the entire team together, but I am sure everyone will improve their form enough to do well at the Championships. We will start team trainings with Dénes from mid-July, by then we all have to prepare ourselves. Actually I am not afraid about it, although the pressure on us will not be as much as previously, we do not allow ourselves to take the Championships as a joke. No one wants to feel humiliated, we aim at winning. This title is missing from our tally so it is time to make up for it”– added Tamás Kásás, who has won everything that is possible in water polo.
He also told that so far only one team, OB I/B MAFC has applied to them as a training partner, they have played together already, and according to Tamás Kásás in this match several players – including Tibor Benedek and Tamás Varga for instance- put their heart into playing, which is more than promising.
When Zoltán or Tamás Kásás show up in the pool in a sporty or less sporty company, time stops for a second, women start whispering to each other while men are smiling. The elegance of Zoltán and the cool style of Tamás fascinate everyone- no surprise. Beside these attributes of them, the fact that they both did and do a great job in water, too, is even more convincing.
The 17th FINA World Masters Championships will take place between 7 and 20 August, the water polo tournament will be staged by Hajós Alfréd Swimming Stadium.