March 10, 2019 – Mladen Drnasin’s entire life has been in water polo; he is a child of Jadran, and now, the president of the Croatian Water Polo Federation. As a member of the board of directors of Jadran, he returned the club to the European elite as they compete in the Champions League this season. Under Drnasin’s leadership, the European Water Polo Championships will also be hosted by Croatia, in Split, in 2020.
Slobodna Dalmacija sat down with Drnasin for an interview about the Croatia national water polo team and what we can expect for the 2022 European Championships spectacle in Split.
Water polo is one of the sports where Croatia is recognized internationally, with the national team usually finding their way to a medal. What do you expect from the national team in the years ahead?
“We already set the pace long ago in 2004, with the tendency to win a medal in every major competition. It is hard to guarantee that in a sport, and sometimes luck is a crucial factor. But we are moving forward with dedicated work, reflection, and by selecting the correct strategy and good planning, have brought it into a position where the impact of luck becomes minimal. For the past ten years, we have succeeded, and I believe that we will continue with the same success.”
Do you believe in Croatia national team coach Ivica Tucak?
“Tucak is a great coach, and we have excellent players and staff. This year, the central event is surely the World Cup in South Korea in July, and next year, along with the European Championships in Budapest, the Olympic Games in Tokyo follow.
It is up to us to prepare in the Federation and create the best situation possible for our young players to get into a position to win a medal, and with that, the coach is to give the maximum.”
Specific to your mandate is certainly hosting the European Championships in Split in 2022. How many people will be involved in this project?
“As many as necessary. It’s nice that we are hosting the European Championships. In addition to the support of the City of Split, the County, HOO, SDUŠ, and HTV, the support and concrete assistance of Prime Minister Plenković and the Government of the Republic of Croatia was crucial; I would like to thank all of them sincerely. Split is a city of sports, eager for great sporting events, full of former and current athletes, outstanding sportspeople. It has proved the excellent organization of significant sporting events.
We have already completed preliminary meetings with Mayor of Split Andro Krstulović-Opara, made the initial plans, met with representatives of Spaladium Arena regarding the technical possibilities. In the City of Split, we have the right partner, and we all want to organize this competition flawlessly. I’m confident we will succeed.”
Is Spaladium Arena technically too demanding to organize?
“The European Championships is demanding in itself. Certainly, it would be easier to organize this competition in an already adequate swimming pool, but the Spaladium Arena offers the ambiance, the capacity of the auditorium, the stands, and the accompanying contents within the building itself. We intend to set up two swimming pools inside the hall, one for the competition and the other for warmups, create a new floor level and stay within the capacity of 9,000-10,000 seats, set up video projections, and more.”
Do you believe that the stands will be full?
“I believe they will. The matches of our national team will certainly be well-attended, and apart from a number of foreign water polo fans who accompany their teams to such competitions, we intend, in cooperation with the Tourist Board, to promote the event to foreign tourists who will be in Split at the time and will have the opportunity to watch their national teams in the competition.”
What will remain in Split after the Euro?
“I believe that an outstandingly organized competition and the beautiful impressions of Croatia and Split will remain, and that Split will be further promoted as a destination of beauty, gastronomy, content, and hospitality.”
You can read the full interview on Slobodna Dalmacija here.
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