Canadian national team member Nicolas Constantin Bicari is a new player among the ranks of Dubrovnik´s water polo club Jug. He arrived to our city from French Marseilles and is now in the central position. For the 22-year-old Nicolas, who will play with Jug for the next two years, transfer to this Croatian club was something new, fresh and different. We asked him about his first impressions, expectations and water polo. This is what he said for JustDubrovnik.
What were your first impressions about the city and the club?
Dubrovnik is a fantastic place for water polo, the coach is great as well as other players. Everything is going very well. But let´s go to begining of my Dubrovnik story… I arrived here to improve my game, playing next to great players like Niksa Dobud and others who play at the center position. Assistant coach Mile Smodlaka also played at the center so I get to learn directly from the master. I appreciate them both and look forward to see what more can I learn from them and which experience I might gain. They treat me very good. And about the City…. Dubrovnik is smaller than Montreal, the city where I was born. I used to live fast and here I have to learn that there is no rush. In that ´speed´ I can focus on water polo better, which was the reason why I came. I will give my best.
You come from Canada, why have you decided to play water polo when hockey is the most popular sport in your country?
When I was a child I lived in Montreal and we had a water polo club. At the age of 16 I had a chance to perform in the water polo junior national team, and when I turned 18 I moved to Calgary, the hometown of our national team. They invited me to join them. I did it and soon made a rapid progress. I stayed for two years in Calgary, then I spent two more in French Marseilles, and finally came to Dubrovnik.
Is the water polo popular sport in Canada?
Water polo is becoming more popular every year. We’re doing everything in order to improve the culture of playing water polo and to popularize the game. Now, we have seven players who play in Europe and that is something people are proud of. But it is nothing like here. For example, when I came to the first training with Jug, over 50 children were getting ready to jump in the pool. It was an incredible scene because it wasn´t something I used to see in Canada.
You are a young player but you already have a lot of experience. You played at the World Championships´ in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Jug´s scouts noticed you last year at the World Championship in Barcelona where you scored two goals during the game with Croatia and were declared the best Canadian player.
Yes, and they have contacted me while I was in Dubai at the finals of the World League, at the end of last season. Honestly, I was really happy that they called me because, for me, Jug is one of the best clubs in the world.
You will share the game and minutes with Niksa Dobud?
Dobud is great, but I’m not sure he can play the entire game. I will certainly have to earn minutes, to play hard and to find my role in the game. I want to make progress in order to help the team as much as possible.
Which goals do you want to achieve with the Jug team?
We have a strong team. If we all work together, this season we can achieve great things. My goal is to progress with Jug, to play well and give my best to help the club in achieving trophies.
Did you know anything about the situation in Jug while you were in Canada and France? I mean, in recent years the club was in a financially subordinate position in comparison to the main rivals Primorje EB and Pro Recco.
We have great players in the club, and we are equally good or even better than those clubs. I am talking about Dobud, Buslja, Boskovic, Janovic, Obradovic who has returned, all of these are players with great experience. Also Younger and me are here to help them. Perhaps we can not measure up to them when it comes to financial status, but we can be measured by the quality and class of players.
Are we going to win trophies?
It is still too early to talk about it, we are still at the beginning. But I can estimate that we will be somewhere at the top.
Which players are your best buddies?
The older guys are realy great in the pool, they have been very helpful. Younger players, like Marko Bautovic who I call Baule, are helping me to experience the City. He is my age and I´ve known him from junior days – from the World Junior Championship. We were both team captains, and we met while we were exchanging flags at the begining of the match. Then we played against eachother; Croatia won the Championship, and now we’re good friends.
Many players of your age did not get a chance to play with Jug´s first team. Do you consider it a big success?
When I accepted Jug´s invitation, I realized that I was offered something big. There are plenty of local and Croatian players but they choose me, a player from Canada. That means that they recognized me and my game, my potential and they estimated i could contribute to a central position more than someone from Croatia. I am proud of it.
Is it hard to play far away from your homeland?
For five years I was abroad. It can be complicated and sometimes I do miss my home. But my family understands that I cannot be at home if I want to compete at the highest level. My wish was to play at the Olympics and this is the only way to get there. They will come to see me here and I will go home for Christmas. I have few years to do as much as posible in water polo. I can always go back home, but I am trying to improve my game and I think there is no better place for that than Dubrovnik.
Tell us more about your playing skills and weaknesses?
I am very agile at the center. I move frequently, swim fast and I have skilful hands. On the other hand, I’m only 22 and I’m not yet in full force. I think I miss physical strength for wrestling in the water. But I am making progress and soon I will have all the mobility and strength I need.
How do you spend your free time in Dubrovnik?
I often drink coffee with my teammates. I visited the Old Town for a few times and I swim a lot. Between trainings I rest at home, watch movies, or sleep. It is a classic routine of every water polo player because this sport exhausts a lot, so we have to recover and heal constantly. I’m glad that I’m in a small town where there are no things that would lure me out, and dragg from the pool.
Did coach Bobic talk to you about his expectations for the game?
He asked me to give my best, to act like a professional; to listen and learn as much as possible from more experienced guys. Everything else will follow naturally. I’m sure he will tell me if I do something wrong. I learned about ethics and professionalism from my Canadian team, so I think it will not be a problem.
Since you started to play your career went up. Do you consider yourself to be an ambitious person?
It came naturally, but I also admit that I am the person who constantly pushes to the best, trying to reach the top. I started as a fifth center of Canada and now I have become one of the best. I want to achieve even more than that. That is also the answer to your question – yes, I am very ambitious when it comes to water polo. Water polo is a sport where talent is not enough, you need to give all you have, to do your best.