ECBU 2013 Country Preview: Italy

by | June 23, 2013, 7:55am 0

Notable beach tournaments: Paganello, Burla, Bibione
Past participation in beach championships
: ECBU2008, WCBU2011
Division participation at ECBU 2013
: Open, Women, Mixed, Open Masters

It is hard to think of beach ultimate and not think of Italy.  The hosts of the most infamous beach tournament in the world for over 22 years, Italians know how to throw an unforgettable party on the beach and call it an ultimate tournament. Paganello has set the standard in beach ultimate tournaments, from its humble beginnings of 12 teams (4 from closely neighbouring countries, the rest Italian) back in 1991, to the 100+ teams that have been coming from all over the world for 5 days of dancing, drinking, eating, and playing (not necessarily in that order), the country that brought it all to us must be taken seriously at any beach tournament, including ECBU 2013.

As infamous as Paganello is in the ultimate world, it is only one of many great beach tournaments in Italy.  The Burla Beach Cup in Tuscany and Bibione in Veneto bring loyal participants back year after year.  Bibione this year was a fertile practicing ground for many national mixed teams gearing up for ECBU2013.  The old Pasticciotto in Lecce, designed as a companion hat tourney to Paganello, is still raved about by the lucky few early participants, before its premature demise. And, of course, WCBU2011, held in the sizzling hot resort town of Lignano Sabbiadoro, will never be forgotten by its participants.  The Italian Open team’s strong showings in the Lignano Beach Arena against both the eventual finalists, USA and Philippines, gave the hosts something to cheer about, too.

Perhaps finally recognizing that the world of beach ultimate has grown beyond their borders, Italy has taken the plunge to send four teams to an international beach championship for the first time.  It held nationwide tryouts in February; then captains chose their teams and have held monthly practices ever since.  The mixed and women teams played at Bibione – 9th place for mixed and 3rd for women – and all of the players have been getting in shape in their local club teams throughout the season. Here’s a look at the squad makeups and how they’ve been preparing for ECBU:


The Italian Open team at ECBU 2013 will be a group of well-known, experienced players based on the same team who reached 4th place at the 2011 WCBU in Lignano, and almost won the bronze medal, losing the final against Switzerland (12-6).

The Italian Open Team at WCBU 2011

The team, coached by Marco Barattini (CUSB) and led by Cotarica Rimini Captains Andrea Ciavatti, Andrea Gavelli and Giacomo Padovani, is composed mostly by players with European experience (Andrea Calanca, Andrea Pagano, and Matteo Mambelli) and new interesting grafts. Even without the CUSB La Fotta superstar Davide Morri, who recently made the Canadian team GOAT, the team will try to replicate the good results achieved on the beach of Lignano two years ago and stand up to the higher seeded Germany and Switzerland teams. With respect to the team who played WCBU 2011, the roster has changed a bit. The team will be composed only by 12 players. The newcomers will have to offset the loss of experience and centimeters.

Even though Italy Open has not gone to any preparation tournaments, the players know themselves well and are able to show a great level of playing. The Italian guys, used to playing on the sand, are strongly motivated and prepared to show their value, although they recognize it will be not easy to climb the peak!


The Italian Women's grass team in EUC 2011 provides the base for the 2013 sand team

The Italian Women team will compete at ECBU 2013 with 13 players. The teams is composed of experienced players that have played together for many years in international competition on grass and several times in Paganello on sand. Italy Women – captained by Frida Svensson and Eva Artoni – has pretty much the same players of Maribor  EUC 2011 and is still very excited after the achievement of the Bronze Medal. They’ll do their best in Spain to show that Women Italian ultimate is competitive also on sand. This year, the Italian team will be a little more international, with Valasatava Yana, a Belorussian player, on the roster.

The team has played only one preparation tournament on the beach, Bibione 2013, and after that, have worked hard to improve our game with Coach Zoffoli’s directives and we are now ready to fight on the sand again!

Unfortunately, the team has had a few injuries, but is still very motivated, and with the experience of Alba Kellezi, Isa Caprara, Barbara Bondi and a few other key players, is ready to bring their best game to Calafell.


The Italian Mixed Team at Bibione 2013

A team completely renewed since WCBU 2011, the Italian Mixed team is ready to face the challenge of ECBU 2013 with brand new players. They are a solid group, having only a few players with international experience, and showed cohesion and solid play in Bibione, where they beat the third (German Master Mix) and fifth-placed team (Grand master Flash) in the final ranking, but suffered the absences of various players in the second half of the tournament and reached only ninth place (of 32).

After the tryout in February, several injuries have forced the captain Dario Lucisano to add several players, totaling 16 – 8 males and 8 females – representing a number of different Italian club teams. This mixture of players who do not normally play together could be one of the biggest weaknesses of the team. The team has, however, taken advantage of their athletic preparation on the marvelous Italian beaches in the last three months, thanks to Dario’s great management.

In Bibione the team was able to demonstrate the ability to use the wind to their favor, thanks to the presence of several tall players – like Arturo Franchini, Nicola Possi and Luca Viberti – and to exploit the experience of some players with international experience (Liza Pesenson from USA, Yanina Palacio born in Argentina, and Federico Leali, who played WUGC 2012 in Japan). The rest of the team is composed of players in good shape who are remarkably motivated, so be aware cutters, the team’s defenders are looking forward to grabbing discs with layout D’s.

The challenge of this new group is to improve their seeding (13th) and reach the top ten; trying to stand out against similarly ranked teams that they will meet the first day of the tournament. Success in this division will depend on the talent of the captain to keep the group together, while the players must gain experience very quickly.

Open Masters

The Italian Open Masters team in Maribor contains many of the same members that will be playing in Calafell

The Italy Open Masters team consists of a core group of players who came together in 2007 to play the EUC in Southampton. The team has added new members since 2011, bringing the right amount of energy, rejuvenating the ranks of the team and enabling faster and dynamic play.

The group was selected by the Italian Flying Disc Federation (FIFD) and was coached by Sandro Soldiers (Cech), captain and a recognized leader since 2007. The great work done by FIFD in recent years, under the guidance of Davide Morri, has allowed the team to prepare a calendar of meetings and training sessions where all the players take part.

Various personal commitments have not allowed the team to participate in any preparation tournaments, but they did organize several friendly matches against the Italian Open team. Certainly the 10-year difference in age was felt, but in the matches came the vis animi that distinguishes the master group, the same good vibes that allowed them to take the Spirit of the Game prize at WUGC 2008 in Vancouver.

The numbers speak for themselves: 13 players, 150 years of ultimate, 2 captains, 1 beach.

Article by Federico Leali, Federico Vantadori, Luca Miccoli, Eva Artoni, and Liz Garfinkle

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