Interview with Dejan Perisic
I had a pleasure talking with one of the most respectful representatives of the LEN technical committee, and an experienced water polo delegate who kindly agreed to answer some question for the Waterpoloplanet:
Mr. Dejan Perisic – what is your position and function in the Serbian federation and in international organizations?
I am currently engaged as the Competitions Manager in the Serbian Waterpolo Federation. Member of LEN TWPC since 2004. and since 2007. the lecturer in the LEN Water Polo Referees School.
Were you present at the WC in Shanghai and what are your impressions? Organization, quality of the games, media and fan coverage?
Yes of course I was present at the WC in China, but without any official duties. The organization itself was superb, but you could really feel the geographical distance from Europe, from where the most supporters traditionally arrive. Therefore there were no large supporter groups, but the ones who came deserved to enjoy the modern, fast water polo games which were in fact seen in China this year.
What would be the impact of the fact that Italy became the World Champion and sort of broke down the "Balkan dominance"? Could this lead to the popularization of the water polo as a sport in the Apennines?
I wouldn't speak about some broken "Balkan dominance", but instead I would like to point out that Italy as a team showed the most standard games during this World Championship, and as a result of that, they totally deserved the title. It is certain that water polo will have an even bigger promotion in this country, but the most important thing is the quality training expertises which lead to the rise of the level in the play quality. Their coach Campagna showed how things should be done, and now it's up to the other Italian coaches to follow that.
According to you, what is the most important reason for the the domination of the Ex-Yugoslavian countries and Hungary? Is it talent, hard work and tradition, lack of interest of the wide public for this sport or something else?
I believe that in the aforementioned regions, water polo represents a national sport in which a lot of money is invested by the countries and sponsors. Off course, the level of investments and support needs to be even higher, but with this level of resources it is possible to follow up plans and programs. A serious approach to the work, in a combination with these conditions is certain to provide good results.
Where do you see water polo as a sport regarding the attractiveness/popularity today, compared to the period 10-15 years ago? Has something changed?
It is really hard to make comparisons in any segment of life between the today and the times 10-15 years ago. Simply, all the segments of life are so upgraded and perfected that we can easily consider 10-15 years ago as a time passed long ago. I do not wish to make comparisons; every period had its specialties, its values and its great and memorable players, coaches, referees and water polo workers. All of them, during the period when they were or still are engaged in water polo, gave their maximum, improved this sport and lead water polo to march ahead.
Do you think that water polo rules should be changed and why ?
There are a lot of people who talk about the shortening of the field, change of the rules concerning the goals scored, contact during the game, number of players in the field, summer season… What do you think about that and what is the general attitude towards that in the international organizations?
I am especially happy with the latest initiative from a group of top coaches which was organized in order to modify some rules. Also, there are several interesting proposals which came from Hungary. The technical comities of both FINA and LEN are working on them. Not before one rule change proposal becomes official, will the real discussion start. The next FINA congress, where the rules could be changed will be in 2013, and by then we must present a clear picture about water polo in the future, throughout the rule perspective.
Do you think of water polo as a harsh sport, considering that many people think of water polo as "some wrestling and fighting in the water"?
Water polo is a contact sport. Actual rules are clear about the level of contact between the players, and I am convinced that with a strict use of rules, harsh duels and contacts are possible to be reduced to the lowest levels, what the last competitions and comments after them in fact show.
Do you think that actual rules, which might be more prone to some teams, are the reason for the difference in the quality of plays between the top 6 teams and all the other national teams?
I do not consider the rules to be the reason for the huge difference between the national teams, but I am convinced that the main reason is that some countries continuously work seriously with all of the national team selections, so there exist the continuity, while some others work in that manner with only some of their generations, and some selections are fairly neglected. This is all very easy to verify by only looking the results in the previous competitions.
What are the ways to popularize water polo in the world?
Especially in the countries where there is no water polo at all, and in those where water polo is on just plain amateur levels but the countries represent huge states and developing markets (like Brazil, China, Mexico, India, Japan, ex Soviet Union states…)
It is more than evident that we need the opinion and the research of highly professional agencies, on how we should approach the promotion of water polo in specific countries, because every country is a story for itself, but what we can do in FINA and LEN, is to secure the budget for the organizations of promotional/friendly tournaments in the countries interested in developing this sport, with some of the top teams which are preparing for big competitions. Also, there is a need for resources for sending quality coaching staff to promote the way of work and to continuously work with all age groups for several years in a row. But the most important thing is to have a vision of what we want to do, and in accordance to that, make the moves which would lead to the aimed result.
Do we need to change the way the water polo games are transmitted on th TV – close ups, getting the people to better understand the rules…? (because whether we like it or not, water polo is rather dull to watch on the TV)
It is certain that we need public opinion on this matter but also the research from the expert agencies as well. I believe that any proposal which would lead to the more quality of the game and transmissions, and for approaching the game to the spectators is more than welcome.
Speaking of new marketing approaches there has been an interesting idea which came from the team of Jug Dubrovnik. Their management created a new way of promoting their sponsors – waterproof stickers on the players' backs. This was the first time that the commercial was worn on one of the players' back. Jug players were "marked" for the first time during the the second round match against Jadran HN in this year's Adriatic League. This is believed to be the first official time when the promotional material is used apart from the standard caps, robes or Speedos. People from Jug are especially proud that this "invention" was not picked up from somebody, and that it represents a pioneer approach. These stickers are water proof and custom made just for this occasion. Not a bad idea for attracting new sponsor, boxers do it for a long time now, maybe we could use it too?
(A note: FINA not LEN is the organization who is suppose to be in charge of writing the water polo rules for any type of World Championships. LEN is only in charge of the rules used for European Championships and Professional Leagues – rules that have that have increase the physicality in our sport two fold. Reading Mr. Perisic’s responses doesn’t sound to me as if FINA is in charge of the rules – does it to you? This is similar to the NBA and the NHL writing the basketball and hockey rules for the NCAA? - Doc Hunkler)
[Click the photo of Srdjan to learn more about his water polo experiences .]