Barakudice are preparing for the European Championships – “Come, support us and enjoy water polo”
In the calm and pleasant atmosphere of Šibenik, the Croatian women’s water polo team is preparing for the European Championship. Coincidentally or not, the backbone of the national team consists of four sister and the head coach from Split, and “their” Spaladium Arena, will host 12 women’s and 16 men’s water polo teams from August 27, 2022.
The special story of Croatian women’s water polo, with which no other team in the world can boast, are four sisters, born in Split wearing red – white checkers. Among other girls in the national team that come from Split these four water polo players have a connection stronger than just sport. They are the Butić sisters: Ivana (26), Domina (22), Magdalena (17) and Jelena (15).
“Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined that this would happen and that I would potentially play with all three sisters in the national team, primarily because Jelena is 11 years younger than me and Magdalena is 9, while I have already played with Domina at three European championships,” explained the eldest Ivana.
In addition to the Butić sisters, Aljoša Kunac, a celebrated Croatian water polo player, will make his debut in his hometown as the head coach, ready for new challenges. “Preparations are going well, most of all we are concentrating on tactics to be coordinated as a team as soon as possible. The best chances are against Germany and Romania, and in all other games we have to reduce the difference to be the lowest possible. At the moment, Croatia’s greatest strength is unity,” coach Kunac said.
In Group A, the Croatians will play against five teams announced by Domina: “I think this Croatian women’s senior team is the strongest one so far that will compete at European Championship and that we have the opportunity to show that we have also progressed against the teams from the upper part of the standings board such as Greece, Hungary and the Netherlands, and I see the opportunity to show our knowledge and skills in the games against Germany and Romania that we have ultimately concentrated most on.”
A lot of attention and concentration, all four sisters have given to years of training, so that today they can live their dream and play for the national team practically in front of their home, since they have lived all their lives in Spinut, a neighbourhood just next to the Spaladium Arena. “To play any championship in your hometown is a great pleasure, but to play the European Senior Championship is an exceptional honour. And playing with three other sisters is really a special feeling,” Magdalena said.
The youngest of four sisters, the promising Jelena Butić at the age of 15, will be one of the youngest debutants among the seniors: “Some of us younger players have been given the opportunity to play with our senior team. This is certainly one of the most beautiful moments of my career, especially because I am in competition for the national team that will be playing in Split and especially that I am even in the running to play for the seniors.”
As they eagerly swim through the pool in anticipation of the start of the European Championship with the hope that the coach will chose all four of them to represent their country in their hometown, sisters Butić and Aljoša Kunac send a common message and invitation to all fans: “Come, support us and enjoy water polo!”.