The Waterpolo European Championship began in Budapest on Sunday with an auspicious 25-6 win for the hosting nation’s women’s team against Croatia.
The state minister for sports, Tünde Szabó, opened the event with pride in Hungary’s contribution to the sport.
“It is our further pride that today marks not only the beginning of the senior European Championship for men and women but also the start of a great series in 2020 when Hungary will host all the European water sports championships,” said Szabó.
The first day’s results in the women’s matches (Netherlands-Israel 22-3; Spain-France 15-6; Italy-Germany 13-4; Russia-Slovakia 31-2; Greece-Serbia 26-7) demonstrated lopsided victories for a number of countries.
While both the Hungarian men’s and women’s teams find themselves in a group from which their advancement should not be in doubt, the men’s team has its work cut out.
The world’s most successful men’s water polo nation has yet to win a European championship in the new millennium. The last European victory was back in 1999.
Both the Hungarian water polo federation’s chairman Attila Vári and coach Tamás Märcz have been part of that gold-winning team.
“It is about time that we win our 13th European gold. I think we stand a good chance as both the men’s and women’s team are getting better, so I am looking forward to a successful European Championship,” Vári said.
The European Championship also offers another chance for teams, both male and female, to win an Olympic quota.
Title image: The ball flies at the Waterpolo European Championship in Budapest on January 12. (MTI/Balázs Czagány)