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06/09/2020 20:00
Mattia Boninfante to follow in the footsteps of dad, Olympic medallist Dante
CEV U18 Volleyball European Championship 2020

Marsicovetere, Italy, September 6, 2020. Volleyball is sometimes a family affair. This is especially true for the Boninfante family, with 16-year-old Mattia currently competing for Italy at #EuroVolleyU18M in Marsicovetere and thus following the example of his dad Dante, who retired from competitive sport in 2017 to focus on a coaching career.

Mattia played his first match with the ‘Azzurrini’ on Saturday, helping Italy secure a 3-2 victory over Turkey. He scored five points in the process, because just like his father Dante, Mattia initially played as a spiker before moving to the setter position after joining Volley Treviso, the very same club that his father played for since his youth and in the highest division of the Italian national league as well.

Mattia’s debut for the youth national team at the age of 16 was obviously a very emotional moment for his parents and especially for his father, Dante. “The emotion was certainly even more intense than for my own debut with the national team,” Dante Boninfante admits. “There was tension at home before the match against Turkey. In the last phone call I tried as always to convey positivity, wishing my son to have fun above all.”

Dante Boninfante has been working for the last three seasons with Angelo Lorenzetti in Trento. He made his national team debut in 2001 and the major highlight of his career came with the bronze medal claimed at the London 2012 Olympics. He retired from competitive sport in 2017 after spending his last season with Powervolley Milano.

Dante Boninfante (sixth from right) on the podium of the London 2012 Olympics with Italy

‘Dante’ was the first word Mattia, born on June 24, 2004 could say as a toddler and he immediately fell in love with Volleyball. “Mattia’s first contacts with Volleyball came at a very early age,” says his father. “From the first training you could tell that he had fallen in love with this sport. I think his first contact with Volleyball, so to speak, came when he visited a sports hall at three months old while I was playing in Montichiari. Since his childhood, he loved to observe my teammates during training and repeat their actions. I remember when he watched Rob Bontje and Emanuele Birarelli serving, he tried to replicate their moves but the most curious memory is surely when he tried to simulate a block in a supermarket using a shelf instead of the net,” Dante continues.

The father acknowledges that Mattia has good qualities for a future career in Volleyball at the highest level. Mattia first started playing ball while waiting for his father to leave the locker rooms after completing his training in Treviso. “I remember the matches in Treviso,” says Mattia, “when at the age of six I followed my father and at the end of their training, I took the opportunity to step onto the court. We obviously speak a lot about Volleyball, but we like to talk about other things too, like football, movies and the TV series that we watch together.”

Mattia Boninfante’s dreams inevitably reflect the achievements of his illustrious dad, including that Olympic medal from 2012. For now, Mattia is taking his first steps at #EuroVolleyU18M, hoping that this is only the beginning of a successful career in the sport.

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