Undoubtedly, with multiple World and European Water Polo Championship victories, the men's water polo team is Croatia's most successful national team. Seven players from Croatia were on the original Olympic gold medal team at the Mexico City 1968 Games. Later in 2012, as an independent nation, Croatia won the water polo gold medal at the Olympics in London.
They became just the second national team to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games, following the men's handball gold win at Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004. Since obtaining independence on August 20, 2022, Croatia has played 800 games, winning 517.
Their recipe for success hinges on the fact that Croatia has always had talented athletes. Plus, they have an organisation to connect them with the specialist knowledge and the infrastructure they need to succeed. Will this be enough to see them through the coming years? Find out in this article.
Croatia's Water Polo history speaks on its own
Croatia’s men’s water polo team has had a long and successful run. The group made their debut at the 1993 Mediterranean Games before they went on to finish fifth at the 1993 European Championships.
In 2007 and 2017, Croatia won the World Aquatics Championships held in Australia and Hungary, respectively. They claimed their first Olympic gold medal in 2012 after defeating Italy 8-6. In 2010, they emerged victorious at the 29th edition of the Men's European Water Polo Championship. It is the first time a Croatian national team has triumphed in all three major competitions, winning a gold medal.
Since 2017, the Croatian national water polo team has made the semifinals in more than 60% of its appearances at the Olympic Games, European Championships, and World Championships. The team has a record streak of winning seven consecutive medals at the World Championships.
To further add to its list of achievements, Croatia won the Mediterranean Games in 2012 and the World League in 2013. Croatia's national water polo team has never won a World Cup, but in 2010, they came close with a silver medal finish. In 1996, the squad received the Franjo Buar State Prize for Sport. Perica Bukić, a former player, and Ratko Rudić, a former national team coach, have been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Water Polo Team: The pride of Croatian fans
While Croatia fans are known to wear water polo caps out of respect for the football player Vedran Corluka, many do this headgear to watch a water polo match. Besides aiming to look like water polo players, fans wear these caps to show their support for the team. They use this means to motivate their players and keep them determined even when the going gets tough.
Water polo might not have as large a following as football, but Croatia’s men's team has garnered attention for a few reasons. These are:
● Betting opportunities: Water polo is one of the sports online bookmakers cover. Betting platforms on sites such as nongamstopuk.casino offer odds on all its events. To further sweeten your betting experience, some operators include a live streaming service. So, fans get to bet on these games and watch the action unfold.
● Thrilling and fast-paced gameplay: Water polo is a fun, action-packed, and fast-paced sport. This water game mixes physical play and teamwork, so it passes as an entertainment option. Fans of aquatic games, and preeminent competitions like the Olympics, enjoy keeping up with the happenings in water polo.
● Proven track record: Croatia holds its head high regarding water polo, thanks to the success of its Men’s national team.
The future seems to be bright for Croatia Water Polo
Despite its small population, Croatia is very successful in sports, one being water polo. According to Perica Bukić, a former professional water polo player, the country's success is thanks to talented players, an expert with in-depth knowledge of the sport, and an experienced governing body. We have explored these factors below to see how they affect the team's performance in general.
A water polo team is not one without its players, and Croatia has many talented ones. One of these is Luka Bukić, who was part of the team when it won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. There's also Marko Bijač, Loren Fatović, Ivan Krapić, Konstantin Kharkov, and Rino Burić, amongst others.
Croatia’s water polo team has had its fair share of coaches, but one of the most successful is Ratko Rudić. With him at the helm, the Croatian men's national water polo team took home the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in addition to victories in 2007 and 2009 and bronze in 2011 in the World Championship.
Ratko also won a gold medal at the 2012 World League, silver at the 2010 World Cup, bronze at the 2010 and 2011 Olympics, and silver at the 2010 European Championship. Tucak served as an assistant for the senior Croatian men's team under Ratko Rudić from 2010 to 2011 and then took over for him in September 2012. He led Croatia to victory at the 2017 World Championship in Hungary. Considering these victories, you’ll understand that fans who wear water polo caps to support their team do so for good reasons.
Croatian Water Polo Federation (HVS)
The men's water polo team has grown tremendously thanks to the dedication of this federation to ensuring that players have all they need for successful gameplay. Formed in 1971, the HVS set out to bring Ratko Rudi back to Croatia in 2005, changing the team's tides, and Ivica Tucak successfully continued his work in 2012.
By hiring trainers like Tucak, Kobeak, Fatovi, and Asi, HVS has set a high bar for this sport. They have provided the finances for the full implementation of all training programs. The organisation also gives young players extra attention through the club system and a youth camp that Neven Kovačević coordinates.
This dedication to the next generation, coupled with established, organised professionals, is essential to the long-term development of the sport. With this, the future of the men’s water polo team in Croatia looks bright.