"Citizenship Took 1.5 Years": Russian Volleyball Player Moves to Italy
The recently concluded Women's European Volleyball Championship was marked by the impressive debut of former Russian player Ekaterina Antropova, who now represents Italy. The 20-year-old athlete replaced world star Paola Egonu in the starting lineup. Six years ago, Antropova was part of the extended roster of the Russian youth team. However, a year later, she was allowed to leave without any obstacles and subsequently did not encounter any difficulties in changing her citizenship.
At the age of 18, Antropova made her debut for the club "Savino del Bene," with which she later won the CEV Challenge Cup (2022) and the CEV Cup (2023). Antropova can be considered a citizen of the world - she was born in Iceland, and soon after, her family returned to St. Petersburg. At the age of 15, together with her mother, Ekaterina moved to Italy.
In an interview with RIA Novosti Sport, the volleyball player explained why she chose her new country, how she adapted to life in Italy, and whether there is a possibility of playing for a Russian club. "Your father is one of the tallest basketball players in the history of St. Petersburg's Spartak. Is your mother also tall?"
"I was lucky with my genes. My father is 2.12 meters tall, and my mother is 1.90 meters tall. She played handball and was part of the team from Maykop in the Super League."
"How did a daughter of a basketball player and a handball player end up in volleyball?"
"Both my father and mother always had difficulties gaining weight, and without it, it is challenging to succeed in basketball and handball. Additionally, my aunts, my mother's sisters, were professionally involved in volleyball. One of them still plays in the Israeli championship. It cannot be called a random choice. Although my first sports experience as a child was in artistic gymnastics. Every summer, I grew by 10 centimeters, so I had to give up my dream of becoming the next Alina Kabaeva."
"When did you start having success in volleyball, and why did you decide to try your luck in Italy?"
"In the first few months of practicing volleyball, I didn't like it at all. My hands hurt from receiving the ball, and nothing seemed to work. I trained in a sports school at a calm pace. The first time I enjoyed volleyball was when I spiked the ball from above. I still remember the sound. I moved to Italy at the age of 15. At that time, my parents asked me, 'Are you ready for the difficulties that lie ahead?' By that time, I was already determined to become a professional volleyball player and replied, 'I am ready.' Was it difficult to adapt to life in a new country?"
"Even in Russia, while preparing for the move, I started learning Italian, but at school and in the locker room, it was initially challenging due to the large amount of information. Italians are very open-minded, and everyone tried to help me. At school, they even exempted me from tests at first, understanding that my Italian would not allow me to complete them. By the end of the first semester, I was able to receive positive grades in all subjects and had no 'tails.'"
"Did the Italian school have a specialized volleyball class?"
"In the upper grades, there were several options to choose from, including sports. I chose international marketing, which devotes a lot of time to economics, law, and foreign languages."
"Have you ever experienced any negative attitudes towards you due to the current realities?"
"Never. Italians treat me very warmly. As evidence, I can mention the outdoor advertising of our club's matches. Throughout the city, banners with my portrait and announcements of upcoming games were hung for two seasons."
As Ekaterina Antropova continues to establish herself in the world of volleyball, her journey from Russia to Italy serves as an example of determination and adaptation. Her success on the court is a testament to her talent and hard work, and she is poised to make a significant impact in the sport for years to come.