by Claudio Svaluto
On July 8-9 2017, 15 national teams from all over Europe will compete in Oslo, Norway for the title of European Champion. The next article in our European Games 2017 series is on Team Italy.
Alessia Bruttini *
Michele Clabassi (Speaking Captain)
Luca Donati *
Oriana Pallaoro (Captain)
Tommaso Ruscitti *
Michele Genovese (Playing Coach)
* denotes players who will be seeking
Interview with Head Coach Michele Genovese
Quidditch Post: How are you preparing your team for European Games (EG)?
Genovese: The team began training in January through three training sessions for a group of 42 players made up of a core of 18, plus 12 reserves and 12 promising players, which was a good representation of the whole Italian community. After that, we held two open training camps, where we worked on the basics as well as on tactics.
QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Genovese: We started later than most other national teams due to the fact that my bid for the coaching role was confirmed only in mid-November. After settling in and organising, we only really started in January. This could be a disadvantage, but I reckon we did alright in trying to catch up. What we definitely saw was a good effort and good will from everybody, including the coaching team and players. In Oslo, we definitely want to improve on the results obtained in previous years. In particular, on the results we achieved at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup [where we came in13th place]. In my opinion, we deserved more, particularly when compared to the final standings of other teams, such as Norway [who placed ninth]. We would like to get first or second place in our group on Day One, and then we will do our best to go as far as possible in the upper bracket.
What needs stressing is that for us, the real result will arrive at the European Games in 2019. With this I mean that it is important to do well in Oslo, but we must not let what happens there stop us. It will be an important occasion to measure what we did wrong, but also to understand what needs work to improve further. So Oslo is actually only a milestone in a three-year project. And I am very happy we finally have the backing of the whole community and of the NGB to cultivate a national team we are all very proud of.
QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Genovese: I would love to play against the top three teams (France, UK, and Belgium). I expect them to uncover our weaknesses and our strengths, which will help us grow. I am also looking forward to a rematch against Spain because our defeat to them last year was due to Spain’s good effort, but particularly to Italy’s choices.
QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Genovese: Certainly the short time to prepare. All in all, we were three months late compared to most national teams, which we used to catch up. In future years, things will be different. The second important challenge we faced was the absence of big names, such as Gabriele Cocino, Walid Benfadel, Edoardo Rubino, and Marco Anglano. These are all players who could have made the difference in important games. However, this national team project will go on even without important players who in some cases are injured or unable to come due to financial reasons. As a national team, we must not pick a few players and build a team around them, but the other way around. I believe this change of perspective is important because it will give us a real team, which we have seen in the training camps already. In a sense, the situation has led us to share knowledge in a way that has allowed our less experienced players to improve.
QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players (or underrated players) we should watch out for?
Genovese: The strengths of our team is in the team itself. I have witnessed substantial improvements in many players. There are players with more talent around, but the fact that we generally lack experience at the European level makes this team very balanced and with a potential for growth that we will see in the next few years. Some examples are Alberto Nicolini, and beaters such as Jona Milanese and Stefano Brizioli who are not exactly new but have never been included in the national team before. The coaching team believes in the whole team, but we don’t have any players who are strictly essential. However, I do want to mention particularly all our female players. Thanks to project Xena, many of them have improved massively. We are talking about players who probably would be on the roster even if there were no gender rule.
by Sarah-Louise Lewis
Heading into the 2017 European Games, Italy appears to be in a good position to compete. They have a strong team and leadership, as well as a level–headed attitude toward the tournament. Italy will be looking toward tactical gameplay that will hopefully give them the opportunity to progress in the tournament.
The lineup looks to be very strong and balanced, which will play to their advantage during the matches. They are captained by chaser Oriana Pallaoro, who has really developed throughout the season; she has hustle and great determination that will be key in guiding the team to success. Lucia Ghidetti will be essential in supporting not only Pallaoro, but also her teammates by using her athletic skills to move quickly around the hoops and open up scoring opportunities. If given the chance to seek, then we can expect to see the same skills applied to catching the snitch. Alberto Nicolini has developed into a physical player who can use his height advantageously in his off-ball chasing. He has improved greatly over the past season and demonstrates excellent hoop work and fast breaks when he sees the opportunity.
Italy has an outstanding beater lineup covering defensive and offensive plays. Stefano Brizioli is 19 years old and plays for a newer team, so he is still relatively new to the sport. However, he can still play to the same standard as the beaters from experienced teams; he has excellent positioning on the field and is highly athletic. This will allow him to make quick beats and recoveries to support the chasing game.
Italy are really hoping to build on last year’s team; they have a good knowledge of tactics and strategy, which they will be hoping to use in gameplay, allowing for the best results possible. The main difficulty they might face is sticking to the gameplan they have created and to not just go for the options of driving to the hoops or pass and shoot. If they go for the latter options, they may find that they struggle against the top teams in the tournament.
Italy has a well-rounded and balanced team, so they should be successful in the group stages.They may have to push hard against teams after the initial stages, but if they stay focused and on top of their game plan, then they can definitely be in with a chance of succeeding at the European Games.