Italian handball has written history

27 years after the last time, Trillini’s Italy has qualified for the 2025 Handball World Championships.

In Podgorica it was a few minutes after 7pm on May 12th. On the light board of the Sports center Morača the clock ticks inexorably: with 32 seconds left, the Montenegro coach calls a time-out; on the opposite bench, the 16 blues begin to cry and hug each other: it is the moment of realization, the moment of history. There are 32 seconds left, then Italy will officially qualify for the 2025 Handball World Championships.

It is a historic moment for the Italian national team: the last – and only – appearance of the Italian national team at the world championship dates back to 1997when the Heroes of Kumamoto they participated in the Japanese World Cup, finishing their group in 5th place and finishing 18th overall. An expedition, in fact, of mixed success: a draw with Norway and a victory over Argentina for just 3 points in total, but also the pride of being there, on the same 40×20 as the best teams in the world.

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Riccardo Trillini’s boys did it, 27 very long years later: a path that is anything but obviousculmination of the seven-year period of management of the technician from the Marche region which has not always been successful; just two years ago, Italy failed to secure a pass for the 2024 European Championships, and there was no shortage of criticism from the movement towards the Italian DT, who had already been on the national team bench for five years, and towards his project.

The blue joy, without missing a second.

Parisini and his teammates’ road to the 2025 World Cup is long and tortuous. It comes from the first (of three) qualifying phase on 1 November 2023. Ready to go, and Italy is practically already out of the game: -9 in Türkiye, and there is already talk of yet another Italian defeat. Four days later, in the federal technical center of Chieti, came the first real test of the group’s mental strength: a 37-27 which, against all odds, overturned the double header and projected the national team to the next phase. Opponent of the moment is the Belgiuma rapidly growing movement that came from 21st place at the 2023 World Cup – the first, positive appearance at an international competition for Red Wolves. Once again game as underdogthe national team won both the first leg, in Belgium, and the second leg, in Pescara: only 120 minutes left until the appointment with sporting history.

The draw appears relatively lucky right from the start: inserted in the second pot, Italy avoids highly rated national teams such as Spain, Slovenia or Iceland, meeting the Montenegro, fourteenth at the last European Championships. The preparation for the appointment starts with the assignment of the first leg to Conversano, for the self-proclaimed occasion “Handball”, one of the most important and influential cities of the national movement. On Thursday 9 May, in front of 3900 fans at the PalaSanGiacomo, Italy plays a match bordering on perfection, and achieves a +6 (32-26) which is essential for facing the return match. Flash forward of three days: the Azzurri also win in Montenegro, with a 34-32 that smacks of history, and the party begins.

The sporting result is undoubtedly historic, and is particularly important for the world of Italian handball, which has been in clear difficulty in recent years. In addition to the missed appointments on the pitch, which like the proverbial sword of Damocles loomed over the blue project, there were political debacles: in December 2023 the Federal Council lost confidence in the President Pasquale Loria, head of the movement since 2017, and with his resignation the Italian Handball Game Federation was placed under the administration of CONI. Qualification for the 2025 World Cup therefore represents a huge victory for a movement that is still essentially provincial: the Italian handball tradition is well rooted in various territorial areas from North to South, from Trieste to They conversepassing through Syracuse, Bressanone or Cassano Magnago, but missing from large metropolises: There are, for example, no national level teams in Rome, Milan, Turin, Naples or Florence.

The qualification also represents a great victory for the Technical Director of the national team Riccardo Trillini: wanted by Loria to lead the Azzurri, the coach from the Marches – two Scudetti, two Italian Cups and trophies in Luxembourg in his list of achievements – was the subject of strong criticism after the results below expectations, especially following the fall of the governance that ‘he had brought to the blue bench. With the pass for the 2025 World Cup, however, Trillini was finally able to give a follow-up – and what a follow-up! – to his project, which also included the birth, in 2021, of Campus Italia, the federal team that hosts the best talents on the national scene, making them train and compete as professionals. The scope of the undertaking is well represented by his declarations at the end of the match: “A dream has come true for all of us. We had a responsibility on our shoulders towards all the fans, enthusiasts, coaches, male and female players, managers. They can all raise their heads when it comes to Italian handball. I believe that it is an improvement that has arrived little by little, but that it required an important result, we knew it. We started from afar in recent years”. It’s easy to read between the lines a reminder to those who, in his 7 years at the helm of the national team, had lost faith.

On the 40×20, Italian handball largely passes through foreign countries: not only Italian-trained players who play in various European championships, but also real naturalized. In the 17 players called up for the matches against Montenegro there are foreigners of Italian origin (the national team’s goalkeeper, Domenico Ebner, is German), players with double passports (the Uruguayan Marrochi) and various players who play in the most competitive French leagues (such as the Captain Parisini), Slovenian, German or Spanish, to which are added others who today militate in ours Serie A Gold but they have had experiences far from the Bel Paese. This is a well-defined strategy on the part of DT Trillini and his staff who, over the years, have done scouting around the continent bringing into the national team – it must be said, with mixed success – some of the best import of our championship as well as foreigners of Italian origin found in championships across half of Europe.

In short, it is undeniable that the internationalization of Italian handball has been an extremely significant factor for the overall growth of the national team sector. At the same time, however, we must highlight how the vast majority of the blue collective is a direct expression of our teams and our championshipswhere – often, from a young age – you have the opportunity to play in high-level teams and grow in a competitive context at least at a national level.

It is difficult, and perhaps a mere exercise in style, to hypothesize the future prospects of the Italian national team in the days following the victory in Podgorica: as often happens in amateur sports, the fortunes of coach Trillini do not only depend on sporting results but also on electoral ones – despite a contract expiring in 2025 for the Cingola player, perhaps we will have to wait for next summer’s elections to see who will sit on the Italian bench in January’s world championship. In the meantime, no analysis, opinions and criticism have been wasted, both from those who jump on the proverbial bandwagon and from those who accuse and claim ancient trust in the DT: in fact, an eternal return of the samerepresented in this case by the controversies that even during the celebrations show no signs of abating.

What is certain is the hope, this time truly shared by the entire movement, to use the sporting feat of Conversano and Podgorica as a (re)launch springboard for this sport in Italy: of course, it is impossible to replicate theSinner effect on Italian tennis – there is a lack of economic, human and communication resources – but perhaps seeing the Azzurri at the world championship, perhaps on television and in print, will bring the new generations closer to the world of 40×20giving new life to the movement and, why not, bringing new athletes with the writing Italia on their chest to a World Cup one day.

In the end, the words of the Italian captain Andrea Parisini will remain engraved: “This time we’re here, we’re going to the World Cup. It will remain in the history of our handball”. He’s right, the captain: history was made. In January, it will be time to write a new page.

2024-05-21 13:00:00
#Italian #handball #written #history


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