Portrait of a Master: Rolf Luedecke (GER)
As a player since 1962 and a referee since 1977, Mr. Luedecke is passionate and well-rounded water polo enthusiast. Throughout his life he played water polo at what he calls a “medium level”. Early on he participated in the German Youth Championships before playing Division 1 (Bundesliga) and then Masters competitions on a friendly level.
In 1999, his club team “Poseidon Hamburg” was looking for a new challenge besides their Hamburg-based activities and decided to participate for the first time in the German Masters Championships. “We were successful and finished as German Champions in the age group 50+. Nearly all players on the team had played together for over 30 years. Thereon we played the German Championships every year”.
In 2000 the team also began participating in the World Masters Championships and they intend to go to Gothenburg (SWE) next year for the XIII FINA World Masters Championships 2010, at least as far as their health will allow (they are now playing in the 60+ category with players almost 70 years of age). In 2003 they also started participating in European Masters Championships and this year they finished as European Champions in Oradea (ROU). “From the beginning of our Masters activities I was engaged in managing the team activities and since three years I am also coaching the (and still playing).”
Early on, Mr. Luedecke also decided to become a referee and by 1983 he had been nominated as an international referee in Europe (LEN) and by FINA. Highlights of his rewarding career include the following competitions: 1985 European Championships in Oslo (NOR), 1987 European Championships in Strasbourg (FRA), 1991 European Championships in Athens (GRE), 1993 World Championships (junior men) in Cairo (EGY), 1994 World Championships in Rome (ITA), 1995 European Championships in Vienna (AUT), 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (USA), 1997 European Championships in Seville (ESP), 1997 Goodwill Games in New York (USA), 1998 World Championships in Perth (AUS), 1999 European Championships in Florence (ITA) and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (AUS). For many of these events, he refereed the Final or Semi-Final games. He concluded his refereeing activities after Sydney.
Aside from water polo, Mr. Luedecke has tennis and downhill skiing as hobbies and says his Masters training absolutely fits with his life. “Our team meets regularly for training and competition games in Hamburg. It’s always good to meet the team members; to speak, eat and drink together, i.e. to have a lot of fun. All our families appreciate and support our activities (my two sons also played water polo), and nearly all our wives accompanied us to the World Masters Championships”. His team intends to play as long as they are able to (health-wise), thereafter, Mr. Luedecke says he “would be glad to pass on [his] knowledge and experience in Masters water polo to international organisations”.
Moreover, he is “very optimistic for the sport of Masters water polo in the future”. Mr. Luedecke says “the development in the past years shows a tremendous increase in teams in the tournaments. The former international players from a lot of different countries want to continue their ‘water polo life’, to meet friends and rivals from earlier days, and to find out how competitive they still are.” His sporting passion is revealed by his message to potential Masters: “The communication and fun you have with your team friends will keep you alive. You still participate in your favourite sport, you sill participate in life, you will find out what your body is able to give in competition, you will meet old friends and you will make new friends. For me water polo did not end with the activities which were limited due to age reasons. For me water polo will continue as long as I survive it. Water polo was a big part of my life and with Masters water polo it still is”.