In order to accomplish top results, there are certain prerequisites that have to be met first, like the physical and psychological preparedness, and a mutual desire to accomplish these results.
In the history of the Croatian water polo, 2017 will be remembered as a golden year. The popular „barracudas“ (the nickname for the Croatian national water polo team) have brought a lot of joy to the nation, but have also put in a lot of work to succeed. „I don’t believe in luck in sports. I only believe in the amount of work and sacrifice one invests into accomplishing top results in any line of work“, says the head coach of the Croatian national water polo team, Ivica Tucak for Diplomacy&Commerce.
1.First of all, we would like to congratulate you on winning the gold medal. Now, that the impressions from the world championship have settled, what do you think was the key factor that helped the Croatian team get that gold?
Thank you! It is difficult to single out that one factor, or any factor, for that matter. What I can say for sure is that, in order to accomplish such top result, certain prerequisites have to be met first like the physical and psychological preparedness, and a mutual desire to accomplish these results. If you do that, you might succeed, and if you don’t, there is no way you can succeed.
2. Last time Croatia won a gold medal at a water polo world championship was almost ten years ago. How similar and how different are the teams that won the gold then and now, in terms of their game style?
It is difficult to compare the two national teams because, conceptually, they are completely different. I think that this national team is one of the fastest we have ever had which affects their game style. What is common to both teams is that they felt massively motivated to win the gold medal.
Only Joković and Bušlje remain from the old team. How important was their experience in winning the championship?
Their experience is definitely very important for our national team because, apart from them, we have a few more players who are experienced in playing big games which is significant when we are psychologicaly preparing for the games, particularly those in the so-called knockout stage.
This is the sixth consecutive medal that Croatia won at world championships. There are gold medals won in Melbourne and Budapest, and three bronze medals won in Rome in 2009, Shanghai in 2011, and Barcelona in 2013. Also, two years ago, the team won a silver medal in Kazan. Do you think that it was only bad luck that stopped the team from winning more gold medals, and do you even believe in luck in sports?
Look, every game is different, and let’s not even talk about competitions like world championships. At times, we were probably not mature enough to take the gold. Sometimes, only nuances were to blame. I don’t believe in luck in sports. I only believe in the amount of work and sacrifice one invests into accomplishing top results in any line of work.
There has been a lot of debating about financial compensation for water polo players and coaches because it is lower than the one that gold winning national teams in other sports get. Are you satisfied with this compensation, and how important are finances in this sport?
It is very difficult to give an answer to such question. Some would argue that we play for money, and that is partially true. It is also unbelievable that some of our main competitors get 10 or even 15 times bigger financial compensation that we do. Regardless, I would like to commend the Croatian government for recently deciding to raise this financial compensation by 100%, and I do believe that us winning the gold medal contributed to them making such decision.
How much do the successes of the national water polo team draw children to the sport? How much personally are you invested in this?
They definitely play a big role in making the sport popular among children. After winning the gold medal, we experienced something that was unheard of before in water polo. We got so much media attention which made the sport even more popular, and resulted in more children now training water polo which is very significant.
6.What does the best national water polo team in the world in 2017 wish for 2018?
I have said on several occasions that we should be happy and proud of the results we have achieved, but not satisfied with them. Satisfaction is a trap where there is no real motivation, and this is unacceptable in sport. We are obligated to continue working even harder and be even more committed.