Remembering the movie Palombella Rossa. Hungarian water polo player Budavari: "I prefer the water polo of 40 years ago"
"Brand Budavari, brand Budavari!". Film and water polo enthusiasts cannot forget Italian actor Silvio Orlando losing his voice during the surreal water polo match between Acireale and Monteverde in 'Palombella Rossa', the 1989 Nanni Moretti movie that united the most politicised cinephiles with water polo lovers, becoming a true movie cult.
At the Ostia swimming pool, during the European Masters Aquatics Championships, the legendary Hungarian Imre Budavari appears as the coach of the Sunday Boys, a Hungarian team in the men's 55+ category. The moustache is always the same, with a smile and friendliness immediately engaging. "For a long time, when I arrive in Italy, they repeatedly tell me 'marca Budavari, marca Budavari'. I have fond memories of the film, of Silvio Orlando, who is a great actor, and also of film director Nanni Moretti, whom I thank for having chosen me at the time. I don't remember many details of that time because so many years have passed, but I am impressed by the feeling that was created between the actors and the water polo players during filming. Friendships were formed at that time, and that was a very nice thing. Every now and then I also look back on the film with pleasure," he said. He also remembers Nanni Moretti as being a good player, with a past in the national team, and who was able to defend his honour in the pool at the time," he added.
In the role of Acireale coach was Mauro Maugeri, coach of the Setterosa water polo Italian team from 2006 to 2008 and of the Dutch women's national team from 2008 to 2013, with whom he achieved numerous successes. Maugeri passed away in 2017 after a long illness. Budavari remembers him very fondly: 'We talked a lot about water polo during the filming. We had a friend in common, a Hungarian water polo player with whom he played, who was also coached by him and who helped nurture their friendship. "When I heard about Mauro's illness and his passing, I was very sorry".
Imre Budavari did not become famous for the cinema. Long before he met Nanni Moretti, he helped write the history of water polo. With Hungary he won a World Cup in 1979, a silver medal at the Guyaquil World Cup in 1982 and a European silver in Rome in 1983. On both occasions, the silver came in a direct clash with the Soviet Union, which Budavari describes as 'the only team stronger than us'. In this regard, he remembered when in 1984, due to the Soviet bloc's boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics, his national team had to withdraw from the Games: "On that occasion we would have had a chance to get a good result, but unfortunately politics played this trick on us. I am sorry when politics gets into sport, because sport is something else, it always unites, even political enemies, and that is always a very nice thing," he said.
Ten years with Vasas in Budapest with whom he won everything, 2 Champions Leagues, 9 Hungarian championships and was crowned top scorer three times: "That is the past, but unfortunately I haven't played for more than ten years because my body can't follow what my head would like to do: it would be frustrating. But sport remains in my life and now I train, I run, I continue to do sport to take care of myself," he added. Since 2013 he has also been coaching the masters, "and it is a lot of fun because with these guys, apart from the satisfaction of water polo, there is friendship and a lot of fun that unites us. Then at international tournaments there is always the pleasure of meeting old players or sporting competitors."
Italy has also left a good memory in Imre Budavari's life: "two years in Arenzano, two in Nervi and another two in Porto Santo Stefano at Rari Nantes Argentario, of which I have really good memories. Then while I was in Italy I finished university, things were changing in Hungary, and I thought it would be better to return to my country to pursue my career as a lawyer."
We say goodbye to Imre Budavari with his thoughts on today's water polo: "in recent years there have been changes to speed up the game, athletes clash a lot more, actions are faster and the game is less understandable for a spectator. I would be in favour of a return to the rules in use 40 years ago, with that kind of refereeing, to allow everyone to follow and understand the game, as happens with football."
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