After three days (April 26-28) of intense discussion and exchange of ideas, the FINA World Water Polo Conference concluded today in Budapest (HUN). The Magyar rendezvous gathered representatives of over 100 National Federations, who had the opportunity to share their vision, experience and proposals for the future development of the oldest team sport in the Olympic programme.
More than 40 lecturers were invited to deliver their contribution in topics such as rules, development, branding, event organisation, sport presentation, Olympic challenges, image and communication, technology and innovation, game’s attractiveness.
At the end of this gathering, the water polo community agreed that changes are needed to adapt this spectacular discipline to the requirements of a very challenging sport environment. Moreover, it was stressed out that this renovation must be implemented as soon as possible.
“We must continue working in the direction of progress, in the direction of a more dynamic and appealing game, in the direction of the younger generations, in the direction of what sponsors and partners are looking for, in the direction of what spectators, TV and digital users want to see and enjoy”, considered FINA President Dr Julio C. Maglione at the end of the Hungarian gathering.
Speaking to the media in the closing Press Conference, Dr. Maglione added: “Many things were discussed, in an open and transparent way, and I believe all the tools are now available to develop and modernise Water Polo”.
Next to him, FINA’s Executive Director Cornel Marculescu underlined that “FINA and Aquatics are formed by a very rich variety of disciplines. Water Polo is part of a great family. Is an essential part of the FINA brand and has to develop within this frame. We have made enormous progress here in Budapest, so let’s start working to implement it!”
On the players’ side, Aaron Feltham (CAN), member of the FINA Athletes Committee, was visibly optimistic concerning the outcome of the Conference: “It was very positive that athletes were deeply involved in the discussions taking place here. We were very happy to see how sincere was the interest of the water polo community in this initiative. So, don’t doubt: if you need us in the future, don’t hesitate, call us!”
Denes Kemeny (HUN), one of the most successful coaches in the history of the discipline, with three Olympic titles between 2000 and 2008 and also member of the FINA Coaches Committee, highlighted: “The Water Polo family needed this reflection to move ahead. Many during the Conference noted that Water Polo requires stars. It is a fact: we need stars in our Sport, we need to popularise our players and make the sport more appealing to the youth”.
From the side of the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee (TWPC), its Chairman Manuel Ibern (ESP) was a happy man: “Where there are difficulties, there are opportunities. We face some challenges in Water Polo, but we have many opportunities in front of us. Water Polo is a magical sport, it is played in the water, it requires strength and strategy. We need to grow, and we will grow!”
Finally, Andrey Kryukov (KAZ), TWPC Bureau Liaison, recalled that the future of Water Polo lies on the three principles referred by Pere Miro, IOC Deputy Director, in this Conference: “Credibility, Sustainability and Youth. Water Polo needs to implement and reinforce these principles. We can only progress if we follow that path”.