Tommaso Stefani spikes against Bulgaria at the U19 World Championship in Tunis
Tunis, Tunisia, August 21, 2019 – When both your parents were professional athletes in volleyball and basketball, you may expect to be tall, but it is quite special to tower at 210 cm at the age of 18 and be the tallest player among the 240 participants in the FIVB Boys’ U19 Volleyball World Championship. However, Italy’s Tommaso Stefani was not even aware of it...
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” he told fivb.com with a smile, when he found out that no other volleyballer at the FIVB event, which started in Tunisia on Wednesday, could measure up to his height. “I just find it funny how the players of the other teams look at me.”
Italy qualified for this U19 World Championship through last year’s U18 European Championship where the team earned bronze and Stefani was selected as one of the two outside spikers on the Dream Team. This summer he led his squad to the gold medal at the European Youth Olympic Festival. On the first competition day in Tunis, Tommaso played as an opposite and was one of the key contributors to the hard-earned five-set victory over Bulgaria.
“We are happy, because it was our first match and we could see where we stand in comparison to the level of the other teams. But we are not so happy about our game condition, because we had some good moments and some bad moments. I am sure we can do better next time,” the young talent from Florence commented.
It was about 10 years ago when little Tommaso fell in love with the sport of his father.
“I tried many sports, but in the end, the only one I fell in love with was volleyball. I was eight and my dad was a former volleyball player (he played in Serie A2). I looked up to him as my example of a perfect volleyball player, so this probably has something to do with it. My mom was also a Serie A2 athlete, but in basketball. My younger brother Jakopo, who is 15, plays soccer. We have a sporting family.”
He once read a sentence, which meant a lot to him, so he chose it as his motto - don’t take life too seriously, because you will never make it out of it alive anyway. “So just take it easy…,” he concluded. Whether or not this has something to do with his motto, volleyball is certainly Tommaso’s biggest, but not only passion.
“The second best thing I like to do is eating, and the third one is cooking. What I like to eat the most is the typical food of my city Florence, which is meat. When I go back home, we usually go to my cousin’s house. He has a bigger garden, where we cook a lot of meat for the whole family. I like to cook a lot of pasta, but I also like to experiment a lot with the combination of different foods. I don’t have a favourite dish to cook, because I like to use my fantasy and imagination to prepare everything I want.”
Playing with fantasy and imagination on the court, Tommaso spent several seasons with Club Italia Rome in Italy’s Serie A2, but as of the upcoming season he is a player of Consar Ravenna and is expected to make his debut in the SuperLega, his country’s elite division in men’s volleyball.
“After I spent four years in Rome, I am so happy about changing the place. I am sure that Ravenna is going to be an awesome experience,” said Tommaso, but made it clear that he is still standing with his feet firm to the ground. “I also know that Serie A1 is not actually my level. I am going there with the idea to maybe reach that level one day. Now I am here to go through this experience with the guys of my age and that’s the only thing I have to think about right now. In the future I will think about the SuperLega.”
“My first dream is to become a good volleyball player, not necessarily the best in the world, but just good enough to be the one to whom they give the ball, when the team is in a difficult situation,” continued the young hopeful. “My second dream is to pursue a university degree in nutrition and have that as a job when I am done with volleyball.”
So what motivates rising star Tommaso Stefani to train harder? “My dreams!” is his concise and immediate answer.
Tommaso Stefani and his Italian teammates celebrate a point