BVSC-Zuglo’s remarkable second-place finish in the OB I regular season has turned heads in the global water polo community. In an interview for the official club website, head coach Kristof Kemeny (Daniel Varga will replace him at the end of the season) shared his insights and reflections on the team’s impressive achievement. Here are some of the most interesting parts.
Looking at previous years, it’s an improvement that we did not drop points against teams in the middle of the table. Was there a particularly difficult match between them?
We have become stronger, as can be seen in our results. I think the Hungarian Cup in August and the few games at the beginning of the championship were necessary for us to come together because our performance there was not so stable. The meeting against Miskolc was the turning point because they were in the lead by one point (5-1) and we were able to win from there. I think the whole thing tipped over there because we were more stable in the Euro cup qualifier, which we organised, and in fact, against Vasas, there was little left for a penalty duel. From then on, we became mentally stable at such a level that even when we performed worse than ourselves, we did not go below a certain level, and we were able to win the matches that we might have lost last year. This provided a base for everything, and in the meantime, we were playing a lot of important games.
They managed to make progress there as well, because the team won more close games compared to last year. What do you see as the reason for this success?
It has several components. One is that we always progressed step by step. We started the autumn with the Hungarian Cup, where we were unlucky in the draw against Fradi. At the beginning of the championship, we managed to build ourselves up for the Euro cup qualifiers, from which we advanced. From there, the close games started with the Hannover match. I saw that during this period we started to play more and more stable, better and more effectively from match to match. I think during the fall we acquired the routine of how to play these so-called one-goal games. It is important to emphasize conscious team-building. 3 years ago, we started constantly replacing players in key positions. We tried to confirm players who fit better into the mosaic, which I think has become uniform for this season. Furthermore, our youngsters are also producing better and better games. The result of this is that several of them are in the squad fighting for a chance to represent the country in the European Championship and the World Cup. Also, our more routine players are enjoying their prosperity. These factors have determined our successful year so far.
You have played a lot of matches, thanks to the new schedule of the Eurocup. What experiences do you think the international competition has provided you with so far?
Playing with foreign teams is always a bit different. Their playing style is a little different; they are stronger and weaker in a way. It has been seen in our matches so far that they represent a similar skill set as us. It is important for the players and for me that we also play in an international cup. This can give us an advantage, which can be seen in our participation in the Hungarian championship. We were very happy that we made it to the next round at the end of the group stage. I think we needed a defeat like the one against Sabac in order to beat Vasas a few days later.
Turning back to the championship, how do you see the continuation?
BVSC finished second in the regular season after 23 years. This is a very serious achievement. This includes the things mentioned earlier, but we cannot forget the professional work of the staff and what the club and the club management have provided us. We want to proceed step by step in the continuation as well. Seven tough matches await us in the mid-season. We have to fight our way through these and our previous points. This is the most important thing now. Only then can we talk about the following goals. Of course, we all know deep down what our goals are and what we dream about, but the point is to plan match by match. In order to achieve a good result, we need to go back to the basics and rebuild ourselves after a much-needed break so that everything can work out well.
It will be your last season here at BVSC, how do you feel about this period and what are your further plans?
I have mixed feelings. The change itself did not come as a complete surprise to me, because I had conversations with the management over the past year, and this was also an option. Seven years will come to an end this season. I started as a youth coach, from which, for example, Dávid Tátrai or Matyi Mészáros were brought up, who are now fighting for a place in the senior national team. In my opinion, we had outstanding results with my teams in the youth leagues and OB I, which is a joint merit. So I have positive memories from the past about BVSC, as I spent the majority of my 10-year career here. As for the future, I am not concerned with it now, but I will consider all possibilities, whether they come from home or abroad. It might be a bit of a cliché, but I want to play these last couple of months like – and I don’t want to compare myself to the Chicago Bulls or Michael Jordan – but everything just gives off a “Last Dance” feeling. After all, an era will come to an end, and I would like to achieve the best result over the past 23 years with the boys.