URALOCHKA WELCOMES GUESTS
European Aquatics League held a congress in Reykjavik in May, 2011, to set up places for the future European water sports tournaments. Russia was chosen to host 2012 U19 Women’s European Water Polo Championships which will take place in Chelyabinsk on September 9-16.
The history of water polo as a sport can be traced back to the second half of 19th century. Rules of the game, based on rugby, were developed in Great Britain by William Wilson. In early matches, players were allowed to wrestle and hold their opponent under water to get hold of the ball. A goalkeeper was always off the pool and tried to prevent the opponent from placing a ball on the ramp. The present-day game with its modern rules appeared in 1880s.
Water polo is one the longest practiced Olympic sports. It was first introduced as a men’s type of sport at the Olympic Games in 1900, whereas women’s water polo became an Olympic sport in 2000 after political protest from the Australian swimming team. Men’s Water Polo Championship is organized since 1973. Women’s Water Polo Championship was added in 1986 and U19 Championship was first held in 1994. Russian team has won this tournament only once.
Promoting South Urals
If you have friends over at your place don’t be surprised if only in a week a lot more people will find out about your home and how good of a host you are.
Region Governor’s team is working on promoting a great city image of Chelyabinsk. Many guests of the European Judo Championships who visited Chelyabinsk in April 2012 were fascinated by city’s wide streets, its improvement and a hearty welcome. Next step for the South Urals capital is the European Junior Water Polo Championship, afterwards the city will host the Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game. Just now, it became known that Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk have been put up to organize 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, one of the world’s most popular ice hockey competitions.
But let’s come back to water polo. The event director was appointed after the Reykjavik LEN congress decided on the place to hold the Championships. He was Valery Galeyev, President of Chelyabinsk region Swimming Federation and a Member of Legislative Assembly.
As Valery Faritovich recalls, “Mikhail Nakoryakov, a legendary water polo coach from Zlatoust, initiated an idea to organize the Championships in Chelyabinsk. Governor Mikhail Yurevich liked supported this idea.”
In 1980s, M. Nakoryakov played for Metallurg football team in Zlatoust. Once women’s water polo began its development in the USSR, M. Nakoryakov took a great interest in the new sport. It was he who formed Uralochka, a team that became Russia’s first Champion in 1992 and whose name still resounds throughout the continent. First team members were picked from former athletes, particularly, swimmers.
M. Nakoryakov is a head coach of junior national Russian team as most of the team members play for Uralochka-ZMZ. M. Nakoryakov’s son – Pavel Nakoryakov – is a Championships’ sports director.
World-class swimming pool
As Valery Galeyev continues, “Stroitel swimming pool, the event venue, has undergone tremendous changes. The reconstruction has been started in spring and the works have been carried out round-the-clock. The pool bath has been improved – it was retiled with high-quality tile with a special anti-slippery surface. The workers have installed new stands to sit 1100 guests, new colour screen that meets the European standards and modern technological requirements, new sensor-operated showers, which help control water discharge, and energy-efficient lamps. Doping-control room is ready, doors and porch are reconstructed, new windows are installed and entrance group is improved. The pool also has a new high-board. Now, Stroitel can host high-level competitions in water polo, swimming, underwater swimming, synchronized swimming and high-board diving. We already have an application to organize national Underwater Swimming Championship in Chelyabinsk. Let me say it again, such a complete reconstruction of the swimming pool would never be possible without the support of Mikhail Yurevich. It is also important that the people of Chelyabinsk region will have a chance to spend time in this pool. I hope after the competition water sports will become very popular among our kids and their parents.”
Zlata? Polya? Uralochka!
Interviewer: Valery Faritovich, the Championships mascot is a bright orange girl-ball Uralochka. How did the idea of a mascot appear?
V. Galeyev: We wanted the mascot to be extraordinary. Everyone is tired of traditional dolphins and hands holding the ball. So, we came up with Uralochka. The name was chosen by vote on the event official website waterpolo2012.ru where people were offered to pick between names Zlata, Polya and Uralochka.
I.: Any special surprises prepared for the guests?
V.G.: First of all, our hospitality. Championships’ participants and guests will stay at Malakhit Hotel. That is where the visitors of the Judo Championships stayed in spring. Next, we have a lot of souvenir merchandise and gifts including mascot soft toys. For the athletes who move around a lot, we’ve prepared travelling bags in which girls will find everything they might need for when on the road.
Cups and medals are being produced by famous Zlatoust craftsmen. Each cup is carved by hand which makes every trophy exclusive.
I.: Where could one purchase a ticket?
V.G.: At the event official website. Here’s a price range: tickets to preliminary matches will cost 100-150 rubles (€2,5-3,75), tickets for the opening ceremony and the finals will be 300-400 rubles (€7,5-10). Tickets will be also sold in city booking offices Kassy.ru (Rus.: «кассы.ру»). Championships merchandise is available in the online store; you can find a link on the official website.
I.: Valery Faritovich, Stroitel swimming pool only sits 1100 spectators, will there be enough place for all fans?
V.G.: We plan to have a fan-zone in the downtown on Kirovka with big screens set up, so that Chelyabinsk citizens and guests are able to watch Team Russia live every day during the Championships.
I.: Russian junior national team has only once become a European Champion. Do girls stand a chance to grasp the victory for the second time playing at home now and who would you say is our team’s main opponent?
V.G.: Our athletes should look out for Hungary and Italy. Water polo, though, is a sport which makes anything possible. Mikhail Nakoryakov is a maximalist – just like we all are – that is why we believe our team will win!
Russian junior national water polo team is now through a series of away training sessions held within team’s preparation for the European Championships.
Russian team was training in Tuapse during second half of July till the beginning of August and then traveled to French Troyes to play warm up matches with Team France. Russia has won both games with the final scores of 13:11 and 15:8. Among the best goal scorers were two players from Uralochka – Nadezhda Yarondaikina and Natalia Perfilyeva – each having scored four goals in both games.
Despite the victories, junior team’s main coach Mikhail Nakoryakov still thinks it is too soon to tell the team is all set for the forthcoming competition. The team has a lot to work on in terms of physical training, tactics and team interaction in order to win gold. Starting September 2, girls will train in freshly reconstructed Stroitel swimming pool.
During the initial stage of the competition teams will play round-robin tournaments within their groups. First group includes Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, France and Germany, second – Russia, Italy, Greece, Great Britain, Ukraine and Turkey.
Yuri Seyidov, observer for Gornyatskaya Pravda newspaper (Korkinsky district).