Italy’s Savona club won the Gezira International Water Polo Tournament which recently concluded at the Egyptian club in Cairo.
The five-day championship, from 14 to 19 January, included hosts Gezira and five foreign teams: Echeyde of Spain, Vasas of Hungary, Jardan of Montenegro, Savona of Italy and Sesi of Brazil.
Savona claimed first place after beating Jardan 13-7 in the final. The bronze medal was won by Sesi which managed to beat host club Gezira 9-7 in the play-off match for third. Gezira finished fourth ahead of Echeyde which beat Vasas 12-10 for fifth place.
Savona didn’t only claim the gold medal but were also awarded, by the organising committee, three of the six individual prizes for outstanding performances. Valerio Rizzo was selected the best player, Stefano Moretti best goalkeeper and Eduardo Campopiano best playmaker. The best defender award went to Sesi’s Ruda Franco, while Gezira’s Ahmed Barakat was top scorer.
The tournament was a huge success both technically and organization wise as it witnessed a huge spectator turn-out from Gezira club members who gave the tournament a friendly and cheerful atmosphere as they enthusiastically supported the teams, creating a joyful vibe around the pool.
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Heritage Khaled Al-Annani joined Gezira’s treasurer and head of the Organising Committee Raouf Nour, Spanish Ambassador Ramon Gil Casares and tournament director Amir Montaser in the VIP box as Gezira beat Echeyde 14-13.
Nour said he was proud that Gezira delivered such a spectacular event “beyond expectations”. “It was superb in all aspects -- the organisation, attendance, level of the competition and thrilling matches. We are also proud that it became the first tournament to be broadcast live on the Egyptian ON sports channel, thanks to former player Hassan Gohar who made a great effort in the organization which was praised by club members and visitors. This enormous success is driving us to start right away in planning for next year’s edition.” Nour thanked Montaser, Nasser Al-Degether, a member of the technical committee, and the Egyptian referees for contributing to the success of the event.
Gezira head coach Daniel Ballart said he was very happy and proud of his team’s “powerful” performance despite the strength of the participating teams, “especially since some of the teams are great champions of Europe and Latin America”. Ballart added that the tournament was beneficial for his players “who have now gained more experience which would help them in their international quests in Africa and the Arab world”.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 23 January, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.