Italian legend and current Novara player Francesca Piccinini has enjoyed a professional career that few can boast about. She represented Italy in four Olympic Games (2000-12) and led Italy to its lone World Championship Gold in 2002. At the club level, she has won 5 Italian Championships and a staggering 6 CEV Champions League title. In a few months, she will celebrate yet another career milestone: her 25th A1 “Anniversary”, as she debuted in the league on November 7, 1993.
Here is how she reacted:
“I always said that I would play until I had fun doing it and I must say that this is still so. For over twenty-five years I have made sacrifices in the field, I dedicated my life to volleyball but not only I have no regrets, I am still determined and motivated to pursue my career. In January, will I celebrate 40 years of age? The age of the registry does not always count, the important thing is to be able to hold on both at a physical and mental level. Those that are the tests with which a professional sportsman must measure himself every day. Let’s say that my “petrol” is the enthusiasm, the one that still makes me face every challenge of the field with a smile and with the right determination.
I face the fact that I am now older than all my teammates with the serenity and awareness that this interchange is fundamental for both parties. They infect me with freshness and enthusiasm and push me to give my best to keep up with them, and I try to help them grow by advising them on how to deal with certain situations and difficulties. I hope that my experience can be precious for them, as it was for me that of my greatest companions.
I aim to simply live for the third consecutive year the magic of an environment that has conquered me and in which I felt appreciated and valued. We are an ambitious team, two years ago we won the Scudetto and last year we almost repeated: when a club wins two cups like we did last year and still keeps hunger and the desire to win … it means that the mentality it’s the right one. From this we start again: in Italy and in Europe we will compete with top level opponents but we will be ready and once again I am convinced that we will be there to contend for important trophies.”
Due to turn 40 soon, Piccinini still has a few seasons to go if she plans to catch up to Irina Kirilova’s record, who was 44 years, 11 months, and 11 days old when she suited up for her last game with Novara in 2009. Although, Kirilova was a setter, which makes it much easier to play up to to your 40’s.