Rejuvenated Grima eyes higher goals after Serie A2 promotion
For Josephine Grima, season 2011-12 was a memorable one for more than one reason.
Last week, the Malta international player wrapped up a successful campaign when helping her team, Olympia Reggio Calabria, to an historic first promotion to the Italian Serie A2.
The 1.93m pivot played a key role as Olympia had the better of Rome outfit Santa Marinella 70-64 (after extra-time) to win the two-legged play-off final 125-119 on aggregate and make sure they will play in the second tier of the Italian league next season.
“This is a remarkable success for a small club like Olympia,” Grima, 27, told The Sunday Times.
“I only joined them at the start of the season from Priolo but I certainly have no regrets on that decision despite going down in the rankings.
“The squad was composed of young talent mainly and although we didn’t have a lot of experience to bank on, we made up with sheer determined play and that showed in the play-off series.
“The final was tight but we beat Santa Marinella in the end and the girls were ecstatic with joy.”
That success in Reggio Calabria brought to a close Grima’s eighth season in the Italian league. The former Depiro stalwart first made the move away from the Maltese league in 2004 when Malta coach Santino Coppa lured her to his club Priolo.
Since then, Grima has played for various teams in the second and third divisions of the Italian championship. She won pro-motion before to the Serie A2 in 2008 when on the books of Ragusa.
However, this year’s achieve-ment takes further significance as it came just one year after a very disappointing loan spell for Grima with Capo D’Orlando.
“Before the season just ended got underway I was seriously thinking of giving up on Italy and returning home for good,” Grima admitted.
“Last year, I was on loan at Capo D’Orlando and the club was hit with administrative difficulties. Things were very difficult for all players both on and off the court. I was not being paid for my services and midway through the season I was back with Priolo.
“After a very frustrating campaign, doubts started to creep inside me. ‘Should I go or should I stay’ I kept asking myself.
“Then, Santino Coppa convinced me to give it another go at Reggio Calabria and it turned out to be a great experience.”
Down south, Grima turned out to be one of the most influential players in a team that was formed by no fewer than six U-19 players.
With her dominant aerial presence underneath the boards, Grima was a great hit and a weapon for Enzo Porchi’s team, finishing with an average tally of 18 points at the end of the season.
“One area where I feel I have distinguished myself mostly this season was my shooting ability,” Grima said.
“Our coach kept encouraging me to try and shoot even when I’m not so close to the ring. I took his advice and now I feel more confident in my game.”
Turning sights on her future, Grima has made no secret of her ambition to finally play in the Serie A1 league.
“My ultimate goal is to play for Priolo in the Serie A1,” Grima said.
“I have been here for eight years now and I feel that my game has improved a lot.
“In a few weeks’ time I will discuss the matter with Santino Coppa. I really hope that this time he will offer me the chance to play in the top flight.
“If that doesn’t happen I shouldn’t find it difficult to play in Serie A2.
“Reggio Calabria have already offered me a place in their team for next season but I want to take my time before committing myself as I don’t want to miss on a bigger opportunity that could befit my career.”
In the coming weeks, Grima will be back in Malta to start preparations with the national team ahead of the European Championship (Division C) in Macedonia.
“We have won back-to-back titles in Luxembourg and Armenia. We’ll be the ones to beat in Macedonia but the team can make it three in a row if we stay together and play as a unit like before,” she said.
“Playing in Italy is what I wanted in my career but rep-resenting my country has always been of great pride for me as well. So, I will be looking to give my contribution again this summer and hopefully for many years to come.”