The Italian women’s water polo team was beyond doubt number one internationally in the 90’s and the early 2000’s. Following some less outstanding results, the has been once again back on track in the recent years. The ‘Setterosa’ finished third at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, winning a World Championships medal after 12 years, and then reached the final of the Olympic tournament in Rio. This time, Fabio Conti’s squad is ready to make another step forward in Budapest.
Water polo fans definitely remember the likes of Alexandra Araújo, Francesca Conti, Melania Grego, Giusi Malato or Martina Miceli, who helped the Italian women’s national team win two World and three European Championships gold medals - and of course an Olympic gold at the 2004 Games. However, following the Olympics in Athens a less successful period had started for the Setterosa.
In that ‘Golden Team’, a young player called Tania Di Mario debuted - who later turned to be captain of the team, but handed the captain’s armband over to Elisa Queirolo after ther Rio Olympics. In 2010 Fabio Conti became head coach of Italy, who gave a couple of youngsters the opportunity to play in the team led by experienced Di Mario. The Setterosa thus once again started to achieve some good results, they finished second in the 2011 World League Superfinal and won gold at the 2012 European Championships in Eindhoven, outplaying Greece in a memorable final.
Italy had a very poor run of results at the FINA World Championships between 2003 and 2015, but they won a bronze medal in Kazan, beating Australia in the penalty-shootout at the end of the bronze medal game.
They finished third at the 2016 European Championships in Belgrade as well. Although they were heavily defeated by Hungary in the semi-final, the day after they overcame the champion Spain and clinched the bronze.
The Setterosa then reached the final of the Olympic tournament in Rio de Janeiro last year. They did not have much chance against the ‘unbeatable’ Team USA in the game for the gold medal, but they fought with honour.
There have been some changes after the Olympic Games in the team, the most important one was captain Di Mario’s retirement from the national team. Her successor Elisa Queirolo is, however, a good choice for this role. She is a real leader, and she can be the captain of the team for many years since she is only 25. Despite her relatively young age she is already one of the most experienced players of Setterosa, so Elisa and the likes of Giulia Gorlero, Arianna Garibotti, Rosaria Aiello, Federica Radicchi, Roberta Bianconi or Giulia Emmolo should help the youngsters of the team (Tabani, Palmieri, Gragnolati, Millo) to improve in the upcoming years.
‘These will be amazing World Championships, because Hungarian fans love water polo. It is always very difficult to play there, but is uplifting as well. There have been some changes in our team, we have a couple of newcomers, but they are all very good players. Our goal is to win a medal, but we will have many strong rivals who have the same desire’ – said Rosaria Aiello.
Carmela Allucci, Alexandra Araújo, Silvia Bosurgi, Cristina Consoli, Francesca Conti, Melania Grego, Giusi Malato, Tania Di Mario, Martina Miceli, Maddalena Musumeci, Paola Sabbatini, Gabriella Sciolti and Monica Vaillant: the squad of the last Italian women’s golden team at the World Championships. Can Italy beat the world again after 16 years in Budapest? The women’s water polo final will take place in the Alfréd Hajós Pool on Margaret Island on 28 July…
The Italian women’s water polo team at the FINA World Championships
Gold medal (1998, 2001)
Silver medal (2003)
Bronze medal (1994, 2015)