Lardo’s debut with Italy against Luxembourg will remain indelible in the memories of Costa Masnaga’s playmaker: “I was very agitated, so at the first action, to free myself, I went to the basket. We are full-time professionals with 5 training sessions per week plus the match “
“I never imagined saying how nice it is to go back to school”. He smiles Matilda Villa, debuting in the national team at the age of 16, 10 months and 28 days, thinking back to the festive welcome of all his class and the teachers of the Liceo Scientifico Sportivo of Carate where he attends the fourth, the day after the match won by Italy on the Luxembourg which saw the play of the Costa Masnaga take the first steps and score the first points in the blue jersey.
“I made my childhood dream come true when at six I started practicing minibasketball with my twin Eleonora following the example of my brother Edoardo, three years older than us. Today he plays in Lissone, our town of birth, in Serie C. As my father Paolo did in the 90s. The basket it is a family vocation and we are all playmaker: also my boyfriend Filippo, a schoolmate, who plays in Cantù’s Under 17 team. Only mother Nadia did not play active sports but with us she is always around the playing fields and she had to adapt ”. Matilde smiles, she saw everything happen quickly: a year ago the exploit of 36 points scored in Serie A-1 against Sassari revealed her in the sports news as a young promise, then a constant and exponential growth: 38 points in this season shot in the Campobasso basket, a vocation as an assault play that today sees her in first place among the Italian scorers with an average of 16.2 points. Only foreigners, and not all of them, score more than her. The consequence was the call-up to the senior national team by the coach Lardo who called Matilde for the matches of the first qualifying window for the European 2023.
Immediately to the basket
The debut was physiological and obligatory even if Lardo preferred to throw her on the pitch only at the end of a match that was easily won so as not to burden her with too much pressure. “I was very agitated, my companions were all very nice in encouraging me and reassuring me. So at the first action, to free myself, I took the ball and went to the basket. It’s my way of exorcising tension. A beautiful moment, so much so that I still don’t realize it. I had made my dream come true, now I don’t have to stop but I don’t want to look too far ahead. The big club, the Euroleague: all objectives that, if they have to arrive, will arrive at the right time. Now my ideal place is here in Costa where it all began, where they believed in me, starting with coach Seletti, where they made my debut at the age of 14 in Serie A and I can continue to grow even making mistakes “. Matilde’s passion for baskets is total. “I started doing ballet with Eleonora but the teacher told us that it was too staid a practice for us, so he advised us to change genre or practice a sport because we were, we are, inclined to run and jump and certainly not dance on pointe . The transition to basketball was immediate. In Lissone, my brother’s coaches immediately sent us out on the pitch among the boys of our age. Then when we moved up in the category we went together with Costa. Today we are now full-time professionals: 5 workouts per week plus the game. Every day a 45 ‘trip, to and fro, to go to the camp. My father is a driver. Sacrifices? I don’t feel them: they are where I dreamed of being, for me basketball is everything. Then I try to find time for the rest of my daily life too: studying, going out with friends for a pizza. Training is a pleasure, not a duty. I feel that sport is my life. The game ball always accompanies me everywhere. As a child I had a puppet, I called it Eip. It was round, just like a ball, I always kept it with me then basketball arrived “.
The challenges with the twin Eleonora
The relationship with the twin Eleonora is very intense and sincere. “No rivalry, God forbid. We grew up together in all directions: home, family, locker room, match. And we also grew up facing each other on the pitch, in endless one-on-one challenges that sometimes end in a fight. Because none of us want to lose. Eleonora is my first fan, she always makes me feel her closeness. My whole family was in the stands in Faenza to applaud me. It was a great emotion that I hope will continue over time. I care about the blue shirt. If I look back, the last year has been overwhelming. That famous game in which I scored 36 points changed my mentality as a player. It has given me more confidence and courage in my qualities than I had before. From that moment on I became a permanent owner. And this season I have taken more responsibility in attack as the coach asked me. But I know I have to work and improve a lot to become an important player. The call in National for me it was the reward for this growth “. Its models are few but well defined. “Cecilia Zandalasini, for her history, her talent and her career, has always been a point of reference for me. I admire her for her total game and I am honored and proud to have become her teammate in the national team. Looking at an absolute value in basketball, my number 1 is Steph Curry and not just for the role we have in common. It’s amazing what he can do on the pitch with his normal body. His ability to score from three even from very long distance amazes me every time. An extraordinary champion. Of course I try to copy something from him but I still have a lot of work to do on the three-point shot. It is not my best fundamental, on the contrary ”.
November 17, 2021 (change November 17, 2021 | 20:25)
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