The Croatian Sports Museum, in cooperation with the Croatian Water Polo Federation, presents an exhibition on the beginnings of water polo, its rich traditions and the greatest triumphs of Croatian water polo on the occasion of the 35th European Water Polo Championship which is being held in Split’s Spaladium Arena between August 27th and September 10th 2022.
It was in Split’s own Bačvice beach, in the far-off year of 1908, that Croatia’s first water polo match took place, organized by a group of students from Prague led by the legendary Fabjan Kaliterna, who brought numerous sports to Split. Water polo is Croatia’s most trophied team sport and at the heart of its strength lies the century-long tradition of water polo clubs that supplied national teams with players who took them, multiple times, to the throne as world or Olympic champions. The exhibition covers the greatest successes of the Croatian and earlier Yugoslav national teams, where Croatian players formed the backbone of the team. There is a section entirely dedicated to the water polo clubs, bearers of a long and rich tradition and titles of European champions, those being: Jug, Mladost, Jadran and POŠK. Players and coaches who left their mark on entire generations have been presented individually. The development of women’s water polo and the accomplishments of the national teams are likewise included. Finally, the foundations of every sport is its infrastructure and so we presented the venues where water polo was once played, the appearance of the first pools and the transition to playing in enclosed spaces which allowed water polo’s development to reach a new level.
We invite all visitors to see the exhibition and enjoy Croatia’s rich and very much gold-plated water polo tradition.
The opening ceremony of the exhibition “Water Polo in Croatia: A century-long circuit from Split to Split” took place in a fantastic atmosphere combining sports and culture. In front of the temple of Split’s cultural heritage – the Croatian National Theater, the exhibition, born from the cooperation of the Croatian Sports Museum and the Croatian Water Polo Federation marks the 35th European Water Polo Championship. The exhibition was jointly declared open by Danira Bilić, the Direcotor of the Croatian Sports Museum, and Renato Živković, the General Secretary of the Croatian Water Polo Federation.
“We are proud of the fact that water polo is the oldest Olympic sport, alongside football. We are also proud of the fact that water polo produced many exceptional athletes and a great many medals. The fact that water polo has been in Croatia for 114 years now is a source of joy and pride for us. We came to the idea of partnering with the Sports Museum in providing for all citizens of Split, Dalmatia and all visitors additional cultural, social and fun activities during these 15 days of the European Championship”, proclaimed Renato Živković, the General Secretary of the Croatian Water Polo Federation and the Executive Director of the Organizing Committee of the European Championship.
“This occasion was an excellent moment to show the rich history of Croatian water polo, the most trophied team sport in Croatia. The exhibition is educational and it is intended to showcase the memories and the tradition water polo has forged in Croatia. I would just like to mention the first match was played in Split, at Bačvice beach, by students from Prague at the initiative of Fabijan Kaliterna. Looking at the exhibition’s panels, you can see the success of water polo and how successful athletes and coachs are on the national and international level and I believe this exhibition will showcase the importance of this sport,” commented Danira Bilić, Director of the Croatian Sports Museum.
The opening was made all the greater by the presence of Perica Bukić, Executive Director of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, Petra Husain Pustaj and Marijan Sutlović, curators of the Croatian Sports Museum, and Zoran Jurić and Zoran Kačić who were involved in the exhibition from its first conception to its final presentation in Split.
As Split is the cradle of Croatian water polo, stretching back to 1908 and Croatia’s first water polo match at Bačvice beach, there is no doubt that this Dalmatian jewel is an ideal host for European water polo players. Capable of boasting of numerous sporting greats, Split is now ready for another, top-tier sports event between August 27th and September 10th. The exhibition will be presented not only in the very center of Split, but also in the Water City in front of Spaladium Arena, showcasing the eventful and successful journey of Croatian water polo. So, take a “swim” through the exhibition as it hits its mark.
Following its opening, the exhibition will be open to the public in the ante-chamber of the Spaladium Arena until the end of the European Water Polo Championship on September 10th.