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We talked to two generations of Brazil water polo players. The Vergara family has a lifetime in the pool. First father’s hand Leo ‘Paraíba’ Vergara and then Rafael that today is training in Spain in the Atlètic-Barceloneta.
Leo began playing water polo in the seventies in the State of Paraíba. He played with different clubs and was eventually called up to the junior and senior team where he played in international competitions. But there came a point in his career he had to dedicate his time to the working life at the detriment of the sport.
However, after a period out of the pool he had the opportunity to return to lead a team from the bench. There followed the romance between the Vergara family and water polo. A story today, both father and son followed.
After several stays, it was during his time in Hebraica when Leo Vergara achieved one of the most cherished title for Brazilian clubs: the Campeonato Paulista. It was also the first for Hebraica in its history. A milestone that is still remembered with emotion. After 14 years in Hebraica, currently he works as the Technical Director in Painheiras where he continues working with young athletes as he has always done.
For his part, Rafael Vergara since he was was little and accompanied by his father, remained dazzled by this sport. He has accompanied his father almost always in his sports career. Pinheiros, Hebraica, Painheiras … and has also followed his path with the Brazilian team.
But for a young ambitious Rafael, Brazil is a limited country for the evolution of the sport. For this reason, and seeing the progression obtained by the Perrone brothers, Rafael Vergara decided to cross the Atlantic in search of a more competitive level.
His first visit to Spain was in the hands of Brazil, for after he arrived he tried his luck at CN Sabadell and later in Sant Andreu, and finally in CNAB. He confesses that training with the stars of Barceloneta is a dream and the support of his peers is constant.
He tells us that he wants to stay in Spain and keep working hard to achieve the highest possible level and aspire his dreams. And he concludes with a message to young people like him who want to reach the top, “attempting to leave Brazil as soon as they can.”
When we talk about the national team and all the developments that are happening in the country carioca both agree. Although Rudic is praised for his successful journey and all of his great work, but Rudic does not understand the Brazilian reality and is not very willing to work with other coaches and share knowledge.
In this section, Leo, more familiar with the reality of water polo in Brazil is emphatic. He speaks out. He sets an example to make clear to the authorities of the Brazilian Confederation. While Rudic and national foreign players who come to the Confederation are pocketing thousands of dollars every month, the country’s junior male team did not travel to Almaty World in 2015 for “lack of money” as the president of the Confederation . Something that Leo was out of hand and does not understand how it is possible that decidedly not bet on the future and how this is done.
Turbo Foto

Since decades, Turbo Company has been a synonym of Water polo. Pro Recco, Atlètic Barceloneta, Croaca, Serbia, Spain, Team USA, etc. Their products are used by the best and their work has prompted that nowadays water polo players can be represented by one Brand and they can feel catered. Through this reportage we will know this Catalan Company a bit further and a lot of anecdotes and curiosities from the hand of Alex Massó and Clara Massó, CEO of Turbo and communication responsible respectively.

The Origin

Turbo is, from it beginning, a familiar Company directed by the Massó family. It is a Brand used by most of the big teams and national teams around the world. Their origins are a bit unknown by the Young people. It was founded during the second half of the last century, this familiar Company produced elastic clothing. Their success was immediate but, in the middle of the 80’s, and because of the severe crisis that Spain lived, the Company went bankrupt.

Next year they raised from the ashes and returned to stay with more strength having like the flagship product the swimsuits. It wasn’t until the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s when the competition swimsuits were first created.

The germ of most of the suits that nowadays the water polo players use, has own name: Umberto Panerai. An Italian goalkeeper of Settebello team that was also the first Water polo Techincal Director of the Catalan federation. With him the possibility of creating the first water polo swimsuit arises thanks to his orientations about what did the players need.

The prototype was a great success and helped to open a whole horizon of expectations. Here arises a second main character: Manel Alled. With his help, they enlisted the help of the global star of the moment Manel Estiarte. Together with Daniel Ballart, Victor García and Marc Barahona, they collaborated to create the first Turbo catalog.

Thanks to their success, next year was the own Manel Estiarte who starred the catalog. Actually, he helped with the gradual opening of the Italian market to Turbo.

A qualitative leap

On the next few years, Turbo focused on deepening on the Water polo providing to players and coaches all the material they needed. But if there is a key date for Alex Massó and Turbo it was the Barcelona World Championship in 2003. That year, the most well known brands refused to participate in the world championship so FINA, and because of the need of sponsors, they decided to Shell in sections the sponsorship.

Thanks to that, Turbo could make a jump on its history because of being part on the world championship in Barcelona like the sponsor of the Water polo. Such a milestone for this familiar Company. A remarkable fact that helped them to get more contact with the outside and establish itself as the benchmark in Waterpolo.

The present

Familia MassóSince then, Turbo has continued with the dynamics of internationalization. Nowadays, the 65% of the sales are made outside Spain, being USA, Italy and France the main markets. Alex Massó admits something, and is that on the latest years, some different brands in Spain have grown and that is because of the excessive internationalization of Turbo that have forget a Little bit the national market. But today, one of the main objectives of Turbo is to get the presence in Spain back. The result of which has been that some teams have returned to Turbo.

In that way, supporting initiatives -such as tournaments- , that promote waterpolo has been an important point for Turbo. BIWPA is probably one of the examples. Since the beginning Turbo has collaborated with our water polo camps and the guys from the Academy have always used Turbo products.

Finally, the success of Turbo and by consequence Massó family, has been consacrating over the years until becoming one of the brands by excellence in the world of Water polo thanks to the quality of their swimsuits manufactured only in Spain. A familiar Company with a past, a present, and especially, FUTURE.

Marina Daroca from United States. University of San Diego State
We started practices about a month and a half ago, we have very intense swim sets every day and we are practicing hard getting ready for season even if it doesn’t starts until January. We practice 4 hours a day in the mornings from 6 to 10  trying always to get the most from those hours, the motivation that my team has to achieve good results is incredible. What shocked me the most about how they practice here in the US is their way to do weights. Here they do olympic weights like cleans, clean deadlifts, olympic squats, pull ups and sequences of abdominal exercises are the ones that we do the most. There very intense but slowly, every workout we do outside the water are making effect and creating great results inside the water.
This year I believe that we have a great team and we are all very excited to demonstrate how hard we are working. The girls on the team have been amazingly nice to me, there is a lot of respect between each other and we are always trying to make as many team bonding meetings as we possibly can going to the beach, having barbecues, hanging out…
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I am so happy that I decided to come to San Diego State University, I get to study and get the major that I really want to have, I get to practice the sport that I love the most and I also have the opportunity of being in one of the most beautiful Colleges around the US. Being able to say that I am an Aztec and that I live in San Diego is one of the most amazing experiences I will ever get to have.

Where do you come from? And how old are you?

San Diego, California and I am 22 years old.

What did you study?

Business and Communications at UC San Diego

Why did you come to Spain?

I wanted to try a different level of water polo and have a different kind of experience. I thought that Spain was a good option because there is a very good level here and the sport is very popular in Barcelona.

What kind of differences have you seen since you have been in Barcelona?

The water polo in Barcelona is completely different than what I know in the United States. The type of play is unlike that of the US. The players are much smaller here, so they are forced to be more creative. In the US players are bigger and stronger so its a different type game.

In Europe our sports system corresponds with local clubs, but in the US high level sports are more associated with the education. In your opinion, what is best for an athlete?

I don´t know what I prefer yet, but playing at University is easier because everything is centrally located. In Spain it is easy for me because I only have to play water polo, I don´t have to do both.

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Why is female team of the United States so good? They just won the World Championship…

It’s really amazing. They are one of the best teams in the world. In the US we train very hard and compete at a very high level. Just like in Europe, water polo is extremely competitive.

And what about you? What do you expect from being in Spain?

I hope to gain a lot by being here, with water polo and with the culture. Sometimes its difficult because I don’t speak the language yet, but day by day I am getting better.

What do you know about your rivals in the spanish league?

I just know about the teams in the top five.

What do you think about BIWPA?

I think its is amazing! The Academy gives athletes a unique opportunity and in America there is nothing like this. I am always telling Cristina how great I think BIWPA is for water polo athletes.

Do you recommend to american players to come to Spain?

Definitely! I think the Spanish style puts much importance on fundamental skill and I think its a great opportunity for young athletes.

Necessary question. How did you get started in this sport and what are your earliest memories in the water?

I wasn’t a very good swimmer and since I was tall, the club suggested that I try water polo… After my first day of practice I had decided I was going to play water polo… I had a great time.

Your career in Spain was mainly developed in the CE Mediterrani winning the league title in the 2002-2003 season. What do you remember from that time?

 During my time with CE Mediterrani I remember being around the best players. Most were part of the Spanish selection, so each practice was a luxury because of the high level and discipline they had. There I learned to love the essence of water polo, there was no financial aid or national teams or club level… so it was putting in the hours and effort to enjoy the sport.

Simultaneously the first international successes started with the junior selection in Loule and Calgary 

I remember those summers, with coach Mar Sanromà, we worked very hard, many hours training and a lot of discipline. We knew this was the only way for good results. Also it was the first time that we would with a psychologists and biomechanics. And all that effort served a purpose, the first medals came in women’s water polo categories (bronze in El Europeo in Loule and bronze in the world championship in Calgary)

You were part of the team that participated in the 2003 World Championship in Barcelona that is considered the precursor of the current generation that has achieved much success.How is it playing the World Championship at home?

Being 20 years old and one of the smallest/shortest on the team I remember it was brutal, throughout the championship I had goose bumps. I couldn’t believe that so many people looked up to us, followed us and enjoyed our games. I remember it as one of the most important moments in my career.

Thanks to that generation, the plan ADO entered with all that it entails. It seems people forget that there was women’s water polo before [now] What changes have you noticed since then? 

The people who spent years in the world of women’s water polo know that without this generation, the women’s water polo world as we know it now probably wouldn’t exist. There were players who trained every day after a hard day’s work, who asked for vacation time to go to stages or tournaments, who  “mortgaged” there summer so that could be “full with the selection, and all this without financial compensation… it was admirable. Thanks to that team and that first ADO, some players from the selection could be without a job, or could continue their studies. The ADO grants are essential for the players to devote sufficient time to polo for great results, otherwise it would be almost impossible.

Plata en Málaga 2008

Plata en Málaga 2008

In 2004 you went to the United States where you won an NCAA ring in your first season. How is water polo across the Atlantic?

It is hard water polo, many hours of training/practice and a lot of disciple. The workouts had a starting time but no end, hours of meetings, you had to study film of rivals before the game, etc. When your goal is to win in the NCAA [title] there is a lot of pressure. Additionally, in the case of having a “full scholarship”, the continuity depends on your academic and sports results.

 Having studied in America, Has it helped you now going back into the workplace?

 It helps to have a career in the US and have a high level of English. The latter is critical today in any career.

Later you return to Spain where in the 2009-2010 season you reclaimed the league championship with Mediterrani some of which have then been a very important part of the current national team…

 It is the league that I remember most fondly. It was a tough year in many ways, but we know how to cope very well: we were very disciplined (we withstood whichever training they threw at us), talented players… but it was the attitude in the water and good relationship between us which made us win this league and made it memorable. I can assure you that any player that formed part of this team remembers that season specially.

 And then you decided to go on a trip to the birthplace of world water polo, Hungary. There you won second place twice in the league. What are your memories of that experience?

 I was coming from the U.S., where everything is based on discipline and hard work, so I was shocked to see a totally different type of water polo… One based off talent. Seeing 12-15 year old kids with a ball control that players in Spain only achieved in the last years of their careers leaves you speechless. And this is because in Hungary they start at a young age working on individual technique and ball control.

Probably, what has stayed with me of those years is having been on a team with some of the best players of Hungarian history.

 Not to mention the silver you won with the selection in the 2008 European Championship in Malaga….

 Unforgettable…  how the fans encouraged us in that championship! Waiting for us outside the pool to sing to us, encourage us… we really enjoyed it. I remember the semifinal game that we won against Hungary, it was very exciting. And even then we lost the final, we were ecstatic to get the first medal of the women’s water polo in a major competition.

 What have been your best and worst memories in this sport?

 I can’t decide on just one good memory, probably I could summarize it in three:

 -The games won and lost that marking a turning point in my career and my development as a player

-The times in practice and traveling with my teammates, that makes you remember everything lived with a special affection.

-And all the moments and games shared, both the selection and the club, with my sister (Cristina Pardo). I wouldn’t have enjoyed everything in the way that I did without having her by my side.

The worst memory probably is the day that I decided to stop playing water polo, I still miss it. But there always comes that time when one must make that decision and not look back, because in reality, there are many wonderful things waiting for us outside of the pool.

 What advice would you give to younger [players] given your experience? 

Two things:

– To get anything (go to the selection, win a league or to play more minutes in club) you must work hard… there will be disappointments and failure, and these will be what help us achieve our goals, otherwise we would never get there

Water polo is a part of life that we must take advantage of and live intensely, but it is not the only thing.  Never stop studying and have other dreams and goals outside of the water.

Lets talk about BIWPA. What do you think and what can they offer to current water polo? 

BIPWA is a great project, and I think the key lies in the variety of programs, being able to combine them with studies and cultural diversity. I think that to play at another level it’s essential to enrich learning different ways of understanding water polo, and this program can offer this experience to developing players.

waterpolo felipe

¿Cuáles fueron tus inicios a nivel de club?

En un club muy humilde de Brasil. Tenía un entrenador que era un enamorado de este deporte, Paulo Rogelio. Entrenábamos mucho recuerdo. Después mi hermano Kiko con 25 y yo con 15 jugamos el Mundial de Fukuoka con Brasil. Hablé con Iván Pérez le comenté que tenía pasaporte y que quería jugar en España.

¿Y cómo acaba esa historia?

Tuve la suerte que Guillermo Molina acababa de fichar por el Pescara y había una plaza en el CN Barcelona. Toni Esteller –que es de los que arriesga- fichó a mi hermano que fue el primero en llegar y yo posteriormente.

Más tarde decides por marchar a Italia…

Sí. Yo tenía ese sueño de jugar la competición de las grandes estrellas. Surgió la oportunidad de ir a un club que era muy bueno para los jóvenes como era el Savona. En aquel momento tenía 21 años.

¿Cómo es el Pro Recco como club y compartir vestuario con las grandes estrellas?

Muy profesional. La ciudad vive el deporte como locos. Es un pueblo de 10.000 personas pero sí que es verdad que la relación con los jugadores es muy profesional. Están volcados en el resultados. Recuerdo que el primer año perdimos la Copa de Europa y al final de temporada nadie sabía quién iba a seguir el próximo año. El segundo año ya la ganamos y nos quedamos más tranquilos.

Hablemos ahora de tu etapa con la selección española.

El primer éxito con España es el bronce en Mar de la Plata. Y luego nueve años increíbles con la absoluta. Quizás no tuvimos la suerte de obtener un oro pero dado el contexto internacional yo lo veo como un logro. Es una etapa muy importante de mi vida en la que he construido muchas amistades y que las tendré toda la vida.

El elemento social en tu incorporación a Brasil es importante me imagino ¿no?

Así es. He visto algo más que las medallas. La función real del deporte de Alto Rendimiento. Gracias a esto he podido crear un proyecto social en Río de Janeiro de 100 niños que me llenan mucho. A veces se olvida de que el deporte también puede hacer personas mejores. En Brasil esto es una herramienta increíble. Además el waterpolo que es un deporte muy completo con valores como el equipo, el sacrificio…

Tengo que preguntártelo. ¿Cómo es Ratko Rudic de entrenador?

Es una legenda de este deporte. En Brasil decimos que si viene alguien con cuatro oros olímpicos y te dice que te rompas la cabeza contra la pared, lo haces (risas). Fuera bromas, le han propuesto un reto impresionante. Es un entrenador muy exigente pero vamos todos a una con él.

easter camp participantes felipe perrone

Felipe Perrone en uno de los campus BIWPA

¿Qué será después de Rio para Felipe Perrone…?

Esa es una buena pregunta. Con sinceridad, no lo sé. Tengo presente que cada día es más difícil vivir de este deporte pero hay que saber prepararse para el día de después. En la selección el grado de Licenciados se ha incrementado muchísimo en los últimos años y esto es un dato muy importante. Yo he acabado mi Grado en ADE y ahora pienso en prepararme como entrenador y quiero hacer un Master pero la olimpiada de 2016 lo hace difícil.

En relación a las últimas noticias que han aparecido de que hay varios clubes que atraviesan momentos delicados en el plano económico… ¿Estamos ante una desprofesionalización del waterpolo en España?

Sinceramente me duele. Es una pena que muchos jugadores no puedan dedicarse a este deporte. Yo he vivido un momento en el que se invertía mucho dinero pero esto ha cambiado. En lugar de quejarme prefiero ver su lado positivo. Es momento de reestructurar el waterpolo español y hacerlo más sostenible. Como modelo profesional hay que buscar nuevas iniciativas que nos permitan dedicarnos a este deporte. Lo que se hace hoy en día es de héroes con la dedicación que hay y lo poco que se gana.

Para cerrar la entrevista me gustaría que hablemos de BIWPA. Desde el principio has estado al 100% con nosotros. ¿Qué le has visto?

Yo creo que sobre todo es la idea y la capacidad que tiene BIWPA de desarrollar el deporte. Su potencial para enganchar a más gente en este deporte y disfrute del waterpolo.

Estamos viendo como empiezan a ver diferentes iniciativas privadas donde antes estaba lo público… ¿Cómo lo ves?

Yo lo veo bien. En base al concepto de responsabilidad social corporativa, es un camino para buscar a las empresas. Por qué no una empresa puede asociar su imagen a un deporte. Sinceramente si supiéramos vender la imagen del waterpolo sería uno de los caminos para emprender .

¿Qué recomiendas a los chicos para que vengan a BIWPA?

Lo veo como una posibilidad para ver el waterpolo de forma más intensa y una manera de conocer otras personas, otras culturas de todo el mundo y relacionarte con personas con el mismo gusto. Al final se juntan grupos humanos increíbles. Es un aprendizaje como persona y deportista.

Foto cabecera: Pilar Silvestre

By Xabi Gómez

How did you start in water polo?

It was in my city, Rosario. I started swimming but I spent the waterpolo friends to see my friends most end there. The decision was not difficult and I adapted well controlled swimming because only I lacked the domain with the ball.

What was your progression within the Club?

I had to play with the biggest ever because of my category there was. At age 16 I got to the first team, learning a lot and selection a year. In 2007 I played my first Pan and was a special moment. From there I no longer stopped.

Knowing how football lives in Argentina, is equally passionate water polo there?

The reality is that there’s waterpolo many people do not follow it. This sport in Argentina is 100% amateur and it shows, players are paid everything and more than anything else is a hobby. In my club is coached by 21:00 to 11:00 p.m. so players were because they wanted, no obligations. That itself is a hard game (laughs).

Can we say then that the waterpolo there is for people with a purchasing power of middle class?

Yes. Usually in Buenos Aires and Rosario clubs are great and the rates are expensive. Provincial, Sportsmen … usually could say yes.

You were talking about tough game. Tell us a bit.

Matches 20-15, no one defends … all focused on the attack and put goal. Players in the water they live it in a very passionate way. There comes a point where everyone starts screaming. When I return to Argentina to see my brother and family, and when I see the small pools closed … I get headache cries (laughs). But it’s part of how waterpolo live there. The pulses are high, there are many who lose papers.

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Focusing on your career, when you decided to try his luck in Spain?

When I finished school I started to take seriously the possibility of coming here. I contacted an Argentine coach who was in Spain and told me that things were difficult here. Also economically nor my parents nor I could afford the ticket.

I think it was Dani Ballart  who finally made you link …

Right. In the end, the chance is that Dani Ballarat came to Santa Fe to give a clinic with Jennifer Pareja. We agreed that I would write whether yes or not. Months passed and I already thought he had forgotten. But he got his message !. The CN Montjuic behaved very well and got to the end of the season when they were in the Second Division. That year we ascended.

The next time you followed in the CN Montjuic, and in First …

Yes. A strong team to move up to Division of Honor was armed. It was a very good season in sports and personal.

Then you endend in the CN Sabadell, your first season in the top flight. How was it?

Thanks to Dani Ballart at that time was Technical Director of the Club. I spent two years there. It was hard because getting used to the physical demands of the training was not used. Also was Gabi Hernandez was very demanding too. But I have no problems in that regard to coach and train. It was hard, but cute, I learned many things.

Your game at the beginning of your stage in Spain, was characterized by that a little ‘crazy’ so you had to play. A bit like what said of Argentina …

Yes. That’s when I learned to defend. It still costs me (laughs). Gabi drove me crazy on defense because he saw that he could not defend anyone. But I ended up doing what he could and did well.

The final of Copa del Rey 2012 you played with the CN Sabadell marks a before and after in your career …

I started bad game because he had two ejections and was fourth on the bench. But when I returned I was much better and was a very nice and entertaining for the audience end.

In 2013 you ended in  AtléticBarceloneta…

A very important step to be able to play in Europe. This club has it all and are betting big on the waterpolo. Besides winning the Final Six … what I’ll say. I never imagined that my first year in Europe we could succeed we got and also winning as we did. Each did his best game because if we do not win. If anyone had failed we had not succeeded.

Why did you decided nacionalize with Spain?
The main reason is to host international competitions. Water polo is in Europe and want to continue to grow and improve eventually had to take this step. The people of Argentina have understood me and know that I had to.

Let’s talk about the future. What will Chalo Echenique?

Do not rule anything out. I would play out. In Italy, Croatia, Hungary … I do not care but I’d love to enjoy a new experience and watch another waterpolo. But I’m very happy here, more can not ask and hopefully I can stay. We’ll see if the club decides to speak., In 2013 I signed for two years and this year have to talk.

By Xabi Gómez.

What were your beginnings in sport?

I started very late. It was swimming in Sabadell and went through premium when I started. I tried it and the next day I did not want to return. But three months I tried again and definitely stayed there.

And as you went there?

In fry and then they took me to school Santa Clara, which is a kind of CAR but the club Sabadell. There I collate studios to 4 of ESO and gave way to the CAR.

Have any studies and high performance sport is compatible?

I think both Santa Clara and in the CAR help you a lot with both and you lend a hand to move forward. I do not see life without education or water polo.

How the possibility of going to America from?

There were many people who were marching Paula Chillida, Alba Domínguez … and when I was little I had this dream of how to do that scholarships. I contacted with AGM Sports because I had a long time. Coach Cal State University of Northridge contacted me and in two or three months because we had all done.

What is a normal day of yours studies and trainings?

It is very different depending on the season. When I came was to train a normal day at 05:45 AM to 08:45 AM collect the pool to train for being freshman (Novato). Then I went to the room and gym 15:00 to 16:00. After studying or doing homework … Now for the season is more bearable but are difficult preseason.

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What is Hell Week?

When you come from winter break (Christmas), since January is a free week before school started. The coach can say 20 hours of training. Was incredible. Trained them from 8:00 to 11:00 and 13:00 to 17:00 and weights were fatal.

How will the season?

Well. Started badly because the coach is new and the girls are getting used but every time we win more games.

Have you met with most Spanish girls?

Yes. With Clara Espar, Roser Tarragó, Claudia, Blanca and Alba. In Spain you do not talk much but here is different. It’s weird because we are rivals in Spain but we are here as friends.

Do you think being 4 years in USA?

I do not know. I have to take the chance truth. Clara gave me lots of advice, told me that the family would always be in Barcelona and here the second year things were better and be more comfortable.

Do you recommend this experience to other girls in Spain?

Yes. I recommend it even for one year. Lots of people are telling me it will air next year and I tell them to come. The opportunity and the experience is unique.

Still follow water polo here?

What I can because the schedule is complicated. I followed the Copa de la Reina. And I’m not much selection between duties and training because I have no time. I have to say that, in part, sees came here because once I left the CAR knew my aspirations are not passed by going to your selection.

 ¿Cómo empezaste en este deporte?

Todo empezó en el colegio, donde aprendí a nadar. Gracias a José Lorenzo que fue el que me metió en el waterpolo, a partir de ahí fui al CE Mediterrani en infantil y desde entonces estoy enganchado a este deporte.

Digamos que es en Mediterrani donde debutas pronto como portero del absoluto pero, es en Sant Andreu donde comienzas a madurar entre los tres palos.

Así es. Estuve tres años en el ‘Medi’ y luego ya pasé al Sant Andreu. Ahí es verdaderamente donde me formo. Ocho temporadas donde aprendí mucho como portero de División de Honor.

En 2008 fichas por el Atlétic Barceloneta como segundo portero de Víctor García.

Llegaba con 27 o 28, Víctor y yo nos llevábamos muy bien pero era una competición pura. Santi Fernández, técnico en aquel entonces, nos decía que quien estuviese mejor jugaría esa semana. Si jugaba uno u otro, no había enfados más allá de lo deportivo.

Un poco como sucedía con la selección con Iñaki Aguilar…

Si al final es una competición sana. Yo creo que es bueno competir cada entrenamiento porque al final eso te hace mejorar.

En 2009 empiezan el rodillo del Barceloneta en las competiciones nacionales. ¿Cuáles son en tu opinión las claves del éxito?

La gente dice que la inversión económica. Obviamente este es un factor importante porque te permite tener buenos jugadores pero además yo creo que también aquí se ha iniciado un modelo de trabajo muy importante y que está dando sus frutos.

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El cenit de tu carrera a nivel de clubes llegó el año pasado con la Final Six…

Es una sensación increíble. Es cierto que teniendo en cuenta el presupuesto de los seis primeros nosotros manejamos unas cantidades inferiores. Ahí se invierte mucho más. El caso del Pro Recco es bastante ejemplar. Este año están barriendo en la liguilla y como sigan así pocos podrán plantarle cara. Pero bueno, volviendo al año pasado creo que fue un éxito impresionante que no lo esperábamos. Teníamos claro, eso si, que queríamos llegar lejos y para eso el club había invertido.

Sin embargo, este año lleváis un par de jornadas con algún que otro bache en Liga…

Si llevamos un mes duro. Las condiciones que tenemos este año son difíciles. Brasileños que tienen que jugar fuera, lesiones… No estamos todos en los entrenamientos. Nos está pasando factura pero yo creo que el equipo llegará a mayo en buenas condiciones porque ya veo que en los entrenamientos estamos volviendo a recuperar buenas sensaciones.

Este verano el nuevo seleccionador Gabi Hernández te dejó fuera de la selección. ¿Cómo valoras la situación pasados unos meses?

Pasan las convocatorias y ves que no estás. Nunca he renunciado ni renunciaré a jugar con la selección. Seguiré trabajando y esperaré la llamada si algún día llega.

¿Cómo ves a la selección actualmente?

Está en pleno cambio. Hay que dar tiempo, porque este año no hay competición y tenemos que darle partidos a los jóvenes porque la mayoría no esta jugando Copa de Europa. No tienen competiciones internacionales y al final sólo están jugando la Liga. Es un salto demasiado grande.

¿Y a Lorrio y Tebar?

Son dos porteros jóvenes que están preparados para jugar pero creo que evidentemente les faltan partidos internacionales como al igual que pasa con los jugadores. En este deporte no hay milagros.

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Hablemos de futuro. Háblame de Miki Linares.

Es un porterazo Miki. Le queda trabajar mucho pero yo le veo condiciones para ser uno de los mejores porteros de España y por que no, a nivel internacional. Vamos a ver cómo se desarrolla pero por ahora tiene buena pinta.

Preparando la entrevista, llegué a la conclusión de que a Dani Pinedo le ha llegado tarde el éxito en comparación a otros porteros que ya desde jóvenes se auparon hasta lo más grande.

Si estoy de acuerdo. Es cierto que la carrera del portero es más larga que la de los jugadores y cuando éstos últimos tienen 15 años deportivamente hablando, los porteros podemos tener 20 más o menos.. La carrera del portero es difícil.

¿Crees que aquí se trabaja bien con los porteros?

En España no se trabaja bien esta posición y quizás esto es lo que hace que un portero serbio a los 20 años sea bueno y a uno español todavía le quede mucho. Nosotros trabajamos a base de errores. Así de simple. A partir de los 26 años es cuando en España un portero se va consagrando.

¿Qué hará Dani Pinedo cuando cuelgue el bañador?

Ya veremos, me veo bien (risas). Tengo 34 años y todavía me quedan tres o cuatro temporadas si el cuerpo aguanta. También es cuestión de contratos etc. Pero en principio quiero seguir hasta que pueda físicamente. De todos modos, seguiré vinculado a este deporte y me gustaría enseñar a los jóvenes y ponérselo más fácil de lo que hemos tenido nosotros.

¿Waterpolo en verano?

Sin duda. Creo que excepto los jugadores internacionales, el resto pasa demasiado tiempo parado en estas fechas. En el resto de Europa ya existen este tipo de ligas. Puede ser Beach Polo o como en invierno entre clubes. Montenegro, Croacia… El waterpolo es un deporte de verano y es una manera de que la gente que no va a la selección, tenga ritmo.

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¿Qué te parece BIWPA?

Muy interesante. Como te he dicho antes a nivel público andamos un poco estancados y este tipo de iniciativas son muy buenas para salir adelante. Me hace pensar que el waterpolo está vivo.

¿Qué aptitudes tiene que tener el portero?

Es una combinación de muchas cosas. Carácter, físico, cabeza, liderazgo… Creo que es una posición solitaria pero que reúne muchas cosas de este deporte.

Semana Santa Campus BIWPA de Dani Pinedo ¿tienes ganas?

Muchas. Será el primer campus en la historia específico para porteros. En los clubes hay condiciones más difíciles porque solo hay un entrenador y nosotros, los porteros, estamos acostumbrados a ir a nuestra bola y a hacer nuestros entrenamientos. Así que animo a todos los porteros a venir porque tendrán atención al 100%.

Chay Lapin, born on 1987,  is an American water polo goalkeeper that set the University of California all-time saves record and played with the United States National Team at the Summer Olympics in London 2012, his best accomplishment until today. We’ve had the chance to talk with him to know a little more about his story.

Why do you started playing water polo? 

I started playing water polo in seventh grade. Originally I was not a goalkeeper, I was a fast little dude. There was one tournament our goalie got sick when I was in the eighth grade and each of us played one quarter, I ended up playing very good. From that point on I transitioned into a goalkeeper and was fortunate enough to have a fabulous goalkeeper coach who helped me become the player I am today.

Why do you love water polo?

I love water polo because everyone is like a family. It’s a small world in this sport, and everybody knows each other. I played with and against the same players for over 10 years. My best friends came from the water polo and the people I can depend on came from water polo. I would not be the person that I am today without the sport.

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It was easy to combine your trainings with the schoolwork?

I believe that water polo kept us disciplined in school because we learned at a young age hard work and structure. Although it was demanding at certain times, I was able to handle a high work and training load.

Did you have to  leave anything to keep playing? 

I definitely missed out on a lot of fun activities with friends because of water polo related trips. At the time it sucks here and there to miss weddings, birthday parties etc. but the things that I have been able to accomplish I would never trade for.

Did you always wanted to be a professional water polo player?

At a very young age I started playing with the national development team, from 13 years old I started in the pipeline and had a goal to be in the Olympics.

When did you realize you had reached your goals?

I reached my goal in 2012 by making that Olympic team. My original goal was to make the 2008 team but unfortunately, I got cut.

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How was the experience of playing at the Olympic Games?

Playing at the Olympic Games was very tough and mentally draining but I loved every moment of it. It is very surreal to walk around and see other athletes that you have admired within water polo and other professional sports.

Did you ever considered playing abroad after finishing college?

Unfortunately when I finished college,  team USA decided to stay within the United States and train full time so I did not have the opportunity to go abroad and play. I think that playing abroad is a great experience from everyone that I’ve talked to, if I had an opportunity I definitely would’ve taken it.

What do you think are the main differences between water polo in Europe and in the US?

I couldn’t differentiate all the differences in Europe because I have not played there. I’ve I believe the biggest difference is at a younger age players are exposed to a very much higher level of water polo and coaching. Also there are professional leagues in Europe where there are none in the United States. I believe the United States is growing tremendously in the sport of water pull over the last 10 years, but it starts with the youth and having a high level of coaching to implement habits that are hard to obtainat an older age.

What do you think about BIWPA? 

I support and endorse the vision of BIWPA. Not only does this provide the youth an opportunity to see a high level of water polo but also opens our youth to a culture that we cannot experience here in the United States. This also provides coaches the opportunity to learn different aspects of the game and improve their abilities back home where they’re from.

If I had the opportunity as a child or teenager to travel and learn from top coaching and experience European water polo I would 100% of done it.

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