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By Xabi Gómez.

Most know you by those successes which gave the Spanish waterpolo in the nineties but also have a very important water polo player baggage.

I’m lucky. At 15 I was in Mexico 1968 Olympic and and that you mark. Later I also went to games Munich 1972 and was European Champion in 1981 with the CN Barcelona, the club of my life, in that final against German Spandau in which Manel Estiarte was a key player despite his youth. I have been Champion of Spain, numerous times selected as an international player, I participated in 4 World Championships … But obviously people remember most from my time as a coach.

By then the Spanish waterpolo be from another galaxy, much less professionalized …

We were in their underwear. It is from Moscow 1980 when there begins to emerge Spain, being among the top six. It is a stage that almost I have to remember black and white (laughs). I remember when I went to CN Barcelona in 1979, had a much Estiarte team worked with and incorporating Salvador Franch in goal. We were head high in Europe until the end that we could break the myth and were crowned champions in the pool of Sant Jordi.

How was the transition from player to coach?

It happened when I was in the CN Helios from 1975 to 1979. He acted as player and coach at a time. Something very hard to do and I swore it would not do. So much so that in 1983 the CN Terrace wanted to sign me with the same role and previous experience of Zaragoza had to refuse. I knew that it would only be a coach, so Terrace accepted my conditions and there began my coaching career.

In the last decade the polo has changed much looking back. What are in your opinion the factors that have influenced this change?

Definitely offensive game terms. I think what they want federations is to enhance this aspect. The fact that the coaches try to out of their boxes to the most offensive players in a clear example. Another aspect I think it was the physical preparation. I think in the preparation of a water polo player, hours of dry and then water, videos, lectures … an elite player devotes six hours a day training. We have come far. When I trained remember we trained three days a week, 1,500 meters and then spent the ball quickly because if we were bored. Has professionalized the game much.


Anyway, we are practically the only sport that periodically change of rules …

Totally. In Sydney 2000 I talked to several professional hockey or other sports like handball and told me that the water polo were about seven days mataos because we played the whole competition. I think I’m the precursor, and this’m proud to have achieved to make watch the Cardinals -as the name of cariñoso- mode, the International that was not feasible so many games in such a short time. In 2003 we did in the World Cup in Barcelona one day a game is played and the other rest. Returning to the subject of the rule change I do not agree that every little change. In football there have been no major changes since its inception and we, we have people that every little change rules. This creates confusion.

In 1994 raisins to be national coach. Why they trusted you?

My first experience as national coach was in 1994 and I remember RFEN president back then Rafael Blanco said after signing for a year this was like a melon, if left would mature green but if left outside. Once I’ve joked that the melon not go so bad. That year the team was a little canned by the previous stage of Dragan and went to Rome and got silver. From this year we link everything. I earned their respect and could make a good team.

Your name is inevitably linked to the generation that won practically everything. What factors are given for those wins?

In this I have always been sincere. We had a single generation. Shall soon to see a selection of this mood. We were near Rome 2009 obtained the silver but it is very difficult. To have the best goalkeeper in the world and the best player in history is something almost unique and current standards. There was an impressive seven holder, incredible talents.

What role does the coach with those stars?

I am proud to have contributed logic and common sense. That is, the coach of FC Barcelona not taught to play Messi. I’m more of Ancelotti Mou, knowing manage a wardrobe and not pretending to have invented the soup. It is my theory. Players who I met had a good work dynamic acquired Matutinovic stage. I continued working but respecting people. We looked a little CCOO, agreeing everything. With that team had to negotiate, negotiations were hard, believe me (laughs).

In 2004 you finish your time as coach and I was struck with statements made to EFE in which you mentioned that nobody bet for you after this and had to emigrate.

That is true. I have millions of defects but I have always been sincere and honest and I think if in Spain envious fly never see the sun. I’ve always been a bit redressed with some people of Spanish waterpolo. In the ten years I was coaching, I always wanted to involve other clubs successes. Because I thought it was a thing of all. I tried, perhaps so too altruistic. Now therefore no longer but eventually if you wanted something, you had to be a little ball and bowing to the presidents of clubs and federations. We must die with dignity. Nobody called me on the phone after my departure from the Spanish bench, except Valencia.

Tell me a little about your stage in Valencia …

I got there thanks to the work of Quim Colet and Chava Gómez. They were two wonderful years. We had a very modest budget but did things very well. The first year was great and the second on budget cuts just by established. Still it is a step which I am very proud.


In 2007 you receive an offer from China, the Big Red Dragon …

I got a call and within 24 hours I decided. It was very hard for me this time especially at first. The first month I remember I had open suitcase several times in case. Another culture, another language, different customs … very hard. Every Friday exam coaches and Chinese managers asking each of my decisions. From an outlet in Australia, I could have more autonomy. Anyway, the players know slaughtered in an exceptional way. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When was the end of the romance between Joan Jané and China?

In the World Cup 2010 in New Zealand do bronze, playing very well. In 2011 in Shanghai do silver and the sequence in theory, it was gold in London but lost to Australia on penalties in 1/4 finals and this cost them digest. Magic then broke. The professionals need to understand that these things happen.

Now you’re in Colombia, Technical Director of Antioch …

Right. It is going well. This year we won all four categories and it seems that the dynamics is positive. In Colombia guys have some infrastructure but the female section is a pending issue. The selection for its part is in flux with Vladimir Lopez to the head. In Antioch is my second in command but in the national team is the one who holds the reins. Say in flux because at the beginning of my arrival I mentioned that depended in excess of 35 players and gave the opportunity to young people. This year we’ve got three kids of 19, one 17, one 20 and one 21.

In the Central Veracruz, Colombia looked like it could have given more …

We went to Veracruz with an almost junior team because I explained that we must go for the youth as is done in Spain. The goalkeeper for example is 17, almost two meters and is a real sick of waterpolo. In complicated games just playing with this guy despite his youth because the owner Elkin Buitrago not quite play as I expected, I’m very picky. In this sport the trademark tactics depending on the goalie.

How’s water polo in Latin America?

What little I’ve seen there are three teams that are well above the rest and can compete in any international tournament with high head that are USA, Canada and Brazil. The fourth would be Argentina but with the nationalization of Echenique lose much. The rest does what he can because there is no culture. Next year there Pan, see what happens.

Let’s talk about water polo in Spain. How do you see it from afar now?

I’ll be honest because I consider that a sport that has given me everything they deserve. In every sport there is, you have to give a generation to see results. I think the Spanish selection is good but compared to other generations has not been sufficiently extraordinary. You go to war sports very good selections. They have not had the fortune to find Pau Gasol or Manel Estiarte. This is what happened in the male. This is my perception but is making things pretty well. True to stay out of the World has been a disappointment but in European Budapest is lost to the hosts of Hungary. Something that you can not surprise anyone. That’s what we have to analyze.

Do we classify for Rio 2016?

It will be difficult because it coincided the Olympics in a continent outside Europe and Brazil for organizer if you are already classified and the United States win the Pan, and two more countries are leaving Europe with least squares. But this is high competition.

After introduce BIWPA what do you think?

I really love. Hopefully you may have all the luck in the world and engaging people to bring computers to Barcelona. Os I have admired for a project that is hard but nothing in life is easy. Your incentive is to put the willies, that are the ‘crazy little’ those who succeed.

By Xabi Gomez.

You’ve been many years linked to waterpolo, especially in Navarre where you’ve been one of the historical. Larraina player and later of Navarra in Division Honor.What memories do they bring to you?

I do not think it has been one of the historical, yes I think I was a player of Club.The club and a generation of players marked a stage and way forward then had a long journey with Waterpolo Club Navarra. The best memories go back to those years as a player in Larraina which is certainly more entertaining than coaching. That’s when you establish friendships with other teammates.

Later decided to end your career as a player and as a coach started another.Your first stop was with the girls UPNA which reaped good results …

Previously I had collated for several years my work player with the coaching ranks of CD Larraina. We 2010/11 promotion to Division Honor Women after a great season. However the greatest satisfaction comes in seasons 2012/13 and 2013/14 where after a hard working team that exceeded mere sport and we reestablish a solid structure on the CD Larraina. Hopefully this will continue in the time and can not fall back into past mistakes.


A year ago, you threw the adventure and crossed the pond to Peru. How was this possible?

The truth is that previously arose the possibility of training in a neighboring country Peru. Late could not be. That encouraged me to try his luck out and live a different professional and personal experience. The Club Deportivo Campo de Marte had need to hire technical and started contacts. They and the Swimming Federation of Peru made ​​possible my arrival.

What was the before and after the Campus Martius after Iñaki Zabalza stay in Lima? Has grow the number of practitioners?

Upon my arrival I saw overwhelmed by the large number of athletes. They trained together at the same time and try to set different groups depending on the category or level. In addition we consolidate a women’s team that had not existed. The work paid off even in the growing number of water polo, mainly in cities such as Arequipa and Trujillo where before there was barely waterpolo.

André mentioned Avallone, coach SESI of Sao Paolo that Brazilian Federation is betting all human and monetary capital available in order to Rio 2016. How does this affect the other Latin American republics? Are they are noticing an increase in sports bets by public institutions?

If it is true that something has changed and moves about Latin American water polo, at least I lived in Peru and other neighboring countries such as Chile and Bolivia. In Peru there are resources and good sports facilities but you have to direct them to the nursery schools Waterpolo, it takes more children. While not do that nothing will change and once done will be a multi-year process to pick fruit.


I think that just landed from Lima you gone to Barcelona to work on campus BIWPA Christmas … What did you experience?

It was a great experience. Not only have I had the opportunity to work with a nice group of guys but it has allowed me to work on the premises of CAR. Never seen something like that, a treat for any sportsman.

Tell us a bit more about this week in Barcelona.

Two great professionals like Xavi Yuri Colet Balaguer and finished to complete the coaching staff. We worked a double session both gym and pool. To this we add videos, various technical talks, matches against other clubs and live presence of Barceloneta-Sabadell Honor Division. The group was composed of boys from various places: Catalan, canaries, Murcia, Portuguese, Americans etc. They fit perfectly from day one and work with them was easy.

What are your plans now back to Pamplona?

In principle, and I think in the end. First I must settle for I took almost a year away from home. I would like to remain connected to waterpolo so anyone who needs my help will have it.


After these days in the CAR, not only Iñaki experience has been positive, but participants also enjoyed the Water Polo Clinic. We leave you with some opinions:

“This Clinic, has personally given me in many aspects besides water polo. I have generated good friends and those friendships have helped me to learn a bit more than this world of Water polo. I was delighted, see you at Easter! ” Fernando, Canarias.

“The Water Polo Clinic seemed to be a unique experience not only to train in one of the best high performance centers, but by the great coaches who have had daily and peers who have lived with me during these days. I have found that in just 10 days you can learn many things and so I thank you for BIWPA. ” Fran, Murcia.

“This week at the Clinic of BIWPA in the CAR has been a very good and fruitful experience for me. I learned a lot and grown both my experience as my knowledge of water polo. I advise all fans of the sport experience! The CAR offers the best conditions for high performance sport worldwide, not just technical improvements and learn, but feel at home! Parents try BIWPA for the future of your children, you will not be sorry! ” Filipe, Portugal.

By Xabi Gómez

How did you get started in the water polo André?
I started very young with this, in a very small city in Brazil. I was about 10 years. Remembrance beginning illusion.I fell in love for the sport and its people! Soon I realized that I liked to be running in the pool playing. I think that was bad (laughs).

What were your beginnings on the bench?
I started coaching 18 years after I entered college and a few years later I realized that the water polo in Brazil was very simple, very small and I decided to go to Barcelona with the help of many friends I’ve met in this world.


In Barcelona you spent several years in different clubs …
First was Toni Esteller who opened the doors of CN Barcelona, I was a season. Then Santi Fernández gave me a cable and I joined the team of Barceloneta with tasks videos. There I grew as a coach and taking on more responsibilities. I did a master of High Performance Team Sports with Rafa Aguilar and Quim Colet. After this I got an offer from Manolo Suarez CN Sant Andreu to do a wonderful job and that we be runners of Spain.

Training, stay, diets … you really love this sport
You don’t know what I’ve done to coach in Barcelona !. I was a waiter at dawn when working with Esteller, I have been selling butane (laughs) … For water polo I did everything and I do not regret anything. I have been very happy.

What role have played in your life social networks?
They have given me life. Thanks to that I returned to my country. For me it is very important to have that connection to the players and everyone can see that we are progressing, which in Brazil is able to trade. Here we have no shirt, swimwear, goals. We do it all.

You went to Brazil some years ago, didn’t you?
Right. I received a very interesting to go back to my city Sao Paolo offer and here I am working with a structure thousand children ten and eighteen coaches pools. A very big challenge.

Infrastructure, many kids and coaches … How has that been possible in just a few years?
Brazilian industries pay for the children of workers may have public schools. Some of them have sports facilities and become club. One day our president, had the idea of making waterpolo at school because her son played well. Then we drove across the state of Sao Paolo. Nine cities.


And how’s overall water polo in Brazil?
Here there is no culture of water polo and Europe. This is not Partizan or Barcelona. No coaches. We have to work with coaches also from the base. It is very difficult to attract people from outside, to see that see that there is still nothing. Yet in Sao Paolo we are one of the references of the country and work closely with the Federation to develop the sport.

I imagine that Brazil will be a giant room for improvement and increase competitiveness …
We can improve more. We have some players who are professionals and invest. Pinheiros has also attracted several professional quality, Paulistano also Popovic. We are working, but we are three or four clubs in Sao Paolo and Rio Janeiro then there are two more. But there is nothing else in the country. We are the spearhead. New ideas, new tactics, trying to innovate constantly.

Will there be a before and after in Brazil after Rio 2016?
Good question. The federation is absolutely investing everything in the Olympics. Do not skimp on anything. Hours of work, money … but nobody has thought about what will happen after Rio. As a coach I worry about the after because it is what we are working.


What do you think about the nationalization that the federation is doing?
Nationalization I see if the lens are medals. Olympics at home does not have forever. We at SESI work only with Brazilians. We played against Botafogo with four foreigners, Fluminense with two … work the quarry. We tried to assume a responsibility that the federation has not seen as important and we do. Training of trainers and create new structures to be more competitive. There we are.
Coaches work with people. With children. We teach you step by step what the competition is. Is obviously a labor of many people.

And what do you think of BIWPA for younger progress?
It is important. It is an opportunity also for many kids to feel in this world of competition. Must know what is really water polo. Train in the morning, afternoon train. The player has to feel at least once as a star, working in the CAR, living with the players of the Spanish team. Receiving visits from professionals. It is very important.

Barcelona also plays an important role …
That’s incredible. You have water polo seven days a week. Saturday league, and even the big European champions with. Here is not that. Two months of play quality games. The rest a month in China, another month training with another Brazilian club … it’s complicated.

By Emma Briones

Eugeni Ballarín (Barcelona, 1970) has been nearly 40 years around the pool. His sports career has taken him from his club, CN Catalunya, to carry the open waters team at RFEN and, since the last four years, is the sports director of the Federació Catalana de Natació.

Sports director of five disciplines

My task is primarily follow the guidelines that marks the board regarding sports projects and coordinate them. In addition to coordinating the technical divisions and institutional relationships (with the CAR, with clubs …).

And organizing the first European Supercup including male and female competition in the same city.

It is very difficult that a men’s team and a women’s team from the same country are champions and that, therefore, there is someone who wants to do the competition at the same place at the same time. The fact that it was made in Barcelona, with both competitions, is a major decoy.

A marketing campaign

And one that will not be repeated unless the LEN makes the competition even more important than it is, more attractive. Perhaps Barcelona is the starting point for the LEN arises find this. It’s complicated, since this competition, we organized it with the RFEN, and ended up having a significant cost.

Despite selling out within 24 hours …

Our goal was to have the stands full, was at home, and had to be a big party of Catalan water polo. So we did some tickets that were priced 0, but the process of obtaining input required to have a minimum intention to participate on the day of the competition. You had to register on the page, give your email, go get tickets … We filled the stands with people who wanted to watch the games.


The Supercup, the Final Six, World Championship … What does Barcelona have?

Barcelona has a great history with water sports, from the first European in 1970. In addition to the Olympic Games Barcelona made an important change to the sport. Barcelona also has a big network of swimming clubs, not only in the city but also in the province.

Is it just sport?

The history of the city with water sports weighs, is an important family is always there. The city is also taking an big position at different levels: tourism, economy … The Barcelona brand attracts a lot, and in these more sports.

Then, there will be more aquatic international competitions in Barcelona?

The FCN and RFEN want to organize the 2018 European Water Polo in Barcelona. It is an issue that is still in process, we have the facilities and the support of City Hall. We hope to confirm facing the spring of 2015.

And another World Championship?

I would be happy, it’s very beautiful to be part of these events. A federal and institutional level is more complicated, much money. In fact the last world championship was arranged by accident.


It had to be done in Dubai and in the absence of eighteen months, Dubai announced that they will not do it. It was an emergency and FINA thought of Barcelona. The city is attractive, we have a great capacity for organization and facilities already exist, but that was not anticipated.


Speaking of FINA, how the new regulations can affect water polo?

I do not know. In all international federations such changes are very complicated. And a change like this is not easy, because there are people who cares that the sport remains as it is now, for thus win. It’s a question of hegemony and positions.


Each one maintains its position within the sport. The changes are complicated. And since the first proposal, which provided for major changes, everything has been diluted. If there are changes in the end, the general public will not be displayed.

The legislation is the great debate of the current water polo.

Yes, but I hope the changes made, done right. If the waterpolo want to grow, you must have a regulation that easier, you can understand those who do not know, the general public.

By Emma Briones

Manel Estiarte (Manresa, 1961) has been fourteen years without jumping into the pool. However, the admiration for his older brother has made him spend more than 30 years in the water. During those years he became one of the best water polo players in the world, participating in six Olympics games and taking gold in Atlanta ’96.

They’ve told me, but I do not remember, that I used to cry a lot in the water, I did not like it. And, truth be told, I hate water, even scares me.

And you ended up in the pool
I was little and my mother, for convenience, as my older siblings were swimmers, signed me at the CN Manresa to learn to swim.

So what led you to play water polo?
It was the love for my brother Albert, I wanted to do what he did. He played water polo, I wanted to water polo. He was playing with the team, I wanted to play with the team … And I played, I played and I got over him, I left him behind [laughs]. I think my brother loves water polo more than me, but I did water polo for him.

But you started as a swimmer.
I was champion of Spain in 200 and 400 styles. I was a swimmer, I trained swimming, I went to the swimming championships. On Friday afternoon, if we had trained well during the week, the coach would let us play with the ball.

When you changed swimming for water polo?
There was a winter that was really the key, I qualified for the only international competition, the Eight Nations. It was a dream to go with the swimming national team. While I was heating, pum! I hit and broke my hand. I cried a lot, I could not go to any competition for a month. And with spring came Pepe Brascó, who was very clever and took me to the absolute team.

And you were only 15 years old…
I was a little 15 year old, who suddenly was playing with the absolute, in Jönköping European Championships (1977). There was criticism, because I was very young, and there were far more good players than me, but Brascó gambled and I will always be grateful.

When I returned from there, I decided to change swimming for water polo. I was aware that I had a talent for water polo, Brascó offered me candy, and I fell for it.

It was an experience.
Suddenly, I had the opportunity to leave Manresa and look what is in the world, to get caught and be taken to the European Championships. Reach out and see De Magistris, that young people today do not know him, but I used to read about him, and there he was, with other amazing water polo players. I was a kid, and I could play for the first time WATERP OLO. For me it was my “BIWPA“.

Would you have liked to have BIWPA then?
I wish I had, but it didn’t exist. However, that competition and BIWPA are the same: it’s water polo, is passion, emotion, touch …

You’ve had a spectacular career, what is your favourite moment?
Four years after losing in Barcelona ’92, and again we are the same one in Atlanta, and the ending whistle. At that time our feelings were like a kick to the heart, the game was over and we hugged each other.


The Olympic Gold.
It has not a different value, the Olympic medal is the same then than now, but the friendship between us, the desire for revenge after the damage we had in Barcelona ’92. 25 years of selection, 30 years of water polo and a life in the water. But if I have to pick a moment, is that one.

You’ve been a few years away from water polo …
I felt very strongly that I wanted to stop in Atlanta, at 36, and those four years later, served as if they were 20, they sucked every little I had left. My mother told me I would miss it, but I knew I wouldn’t miss anything. I’ve never swum after that, I’ve been 14 years without jumping into the pool.

Because it’s over. That was wonderful, my life, but water polo was part of my life, and it was spectacular in every way. Surely I could have done more, but I would have done it unmotivated, for sure. Occasionally I come to a game and in two minutes I can say what works and what does not, who is good and who is not. Water polo it’s inside me.


How do you see today’s water polo from outside?
Those who love water polo clearly will always love water polo, but it is clear that our eyes now let us see that this is water polo. The water polo I had seen in black and white, in the 40s, 50s, 60s, looks more like today’s water polo, and I think that there’s something that does not fit.

Should we make changes, as claimed by FINA?
There was a time in which they should have done, between 2002-2004, there was a water polo trend, and it was changing, I do not know if better or worse, but it was changing. Clearly, if now I see in the Olympic finals Yugoslavia, Spain, Hungary, Italy … I’ll love it, because we see talent, effort, power, emotion … But if I look at everything else, there is something that does not fit, the current water polo doesn’t make you smile. I am convinced that if 50 children to go see water polo for the first time, 46 will not be hooked.

Something is wrong.
In all sports, if you give the ball to the kids, they’ll want to score, because there is still no tactics, no defense. In water polo same. You leave the kids in a pool with a ball, and go straight to the goal. This is the basis of sports. If you take a kid to a water polo match, he’ll say “Why don’t they shoot dad?” And how will you explain them? “No, son, is that if you shoot, there is a statistical chance that …” And it’s always no, don’t shoot now.

In waterpolo you have to wait.
The percentage in water polo it’s an 80% of I get there and wait. That means losing something of sports’ nature. I love it, I loveit dearly, but there is something of the water polo essence that is beyond me, that does not fit. Water polo is a sport that we’re educating wrong.

Toni Esteller, CN Barcelona‘s coach and BIWPA contributor , has announced that he will be the new national coach of Slovakia. The Slovak federation has already confirmed the agreement between the two parties.

The coach, who has spent over two decades at the CN Barcelona, ​​has made ​​a condition, and he will continue directing and coaching the CN Barcelona, that has won two LEN cups, seven national championships and seven cups. In order to reconcile the two positions, Esteller will move to Slovakia only for training with the team and during periods of increased international activity.

The aim of the Slovak federation with this signing is, according Esteller, placing the team in the continental waterpolo elite. Thus, the combined Slovak wants to earn qualification for the 2016 European in Belgrade, a competition that they have not played since 2008.

This international challenge is a great recognition of his work and worth as a coach, and another example of the high level of Spanish water polo. BIWPA wants to congratulate Toni for this new challenge in his brilliant career, and wish him luck in this new adventure.


Passionate, dedicated and sincere; but also hard, unpredictable and transgressor. He’s Mariano García Barguilla. He was the coach of Miki Oca, Toto or Estiarte, among other Spanish water polo stars. He participated in the Olympics of Seoul 1988 as the trainer of the Spanish National Team, and he designed the team that went to the Olympic Games of Barcelona 1992, together with Toni Esteller. Mariano García training methods were considered rather controversial, or slightly understandable; however, those methods helped to re-formulate the way of understanding the Spanish water polo and made it more competitive.

This Madrilenian has been linked to the water polo world for half a century, in multiple facets and teams. Now he has ‘ almost retired ‘, so he has found a water polo club, and he’s very present on the Internet: he shares his technical knowledge on his blog and on his channel on Youtube. In the following interview we revise his more than 4 decades as a Spanish water polo professional.

When did Mariano García meet the water polo world?
In the early 60s. I lived in a neighborhood (knew as ‘houses of Parque Móvil’) in Madrid, where there was a pool and a water polo club which played in the National League. There started my passion for this sport.

You were one of the ideologists of the ‘waterpolo school of Madrid’. How was that group of young talents ?
It was a group of players chosen by me, and pointed out and criticized by the rest of the clubs. They trained at high level, as I believed that a player should train to be a specialist. There were no colors, only the desire for achieve a self-improvement.

Which was the difference between the water polo of Madrid and of Catalonia at that time?
It was the same one between a chicken and an egg. There was no hunger to win and only a thought about a Catalan team, was enough to make them shake their legs. The players could be similar but the attitude and the level of training were not the ideal.

You designed, with Esteller, the National team for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The team was formed with players from the Madrilenian School and the Catalan School. Was it difficult to tune both parts?
They were two groups like the Ying and Yang. I think that’s the reason which makes them such a fantastic mix team. They couldn’t be more opposite; neither more complementary.

garcía -esteller (2)

You have been one of the toughest technicians in the history of the Spanish water polo. Your workouts included ‘ to cut trunks’, or ‘rugbypolo’. Why did you use so much hardness?
I think that they did what they had to do as professional players in this discipline. Swimming only served to cross the English Channel. It wasn’t hard. It was entertaining and motivating. No one injured in our practices and it was very exciting.

That hardness helped them to achieve a more aggressive game. But it also triggered several quarrels in important matches. How do you remember those ‘encounters’?
Those quarrels didn’t catch me very close. But I can assure you that the players learned to not be afraid of anyone and believe in their self-esteem. And they showed it.

That team had great talents that have become historical Spanish water polo players: Miki Oca, Toto, Estiarte, Rollán… Tell us about your relationship with them.
They were “my children” and I treated them in an atmosphere of love and respect… maybe I was quite different from a standard coach. They had grown up with me in Madrid and our long time of living gave us a very close relationship. Also with Estiarte atlthought he wasn’t from Madrid’s School. It was a self-contained by that stage.

Toto moved to your home, to be able to train more hours, and to become the best player of the Championship. Were you something similar as a godfather for them?
I loved to have a prototype as him with his qualities. I wanted to show me – and him – that you could get great things with hard work. Perhaps I was too absorbent, but I loved it, and he had so much interest.


Your players were the best in the water, but were also young and daring; they lived intensively what they did, and they didn’t lose a party. You were so kind of a stickler, what did you tell them about that?
The parties began to make noticeable in his Catalan tour, and by that time I had no strength or proximity to be able to control them. On the other hand, they had their age and they were supposed to have the maturity to be able to implement a coherent and independent life.

It’s clear that you’ve taught them many things. What did you learn from them?
I really enjoyed working with such an extraordinary people. They gave everything that a coach can dream and desire, including getting test with their daring.

In summer of 2013 you embark on a new adventure; you create a water polo club, of which you are President, CDE Villalba WP. When or why did you decide to take that step?
I have lived in Villalba since I was a child. It seemed to me an aberration not to try to do something in a town so distant and erratic for water polo. I like to say that it’s a challenge to my second youth.

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You have been a coach, a physical trainer, a President. In which role you feel more comfortable?
In the role that you can run everything you crave and dream. Perhaps it is a utopia. But I’ve got the chance to do almost all of this with everyone of my facets.

You have always been closely linked to the formation of the water polo. So why would you recommend, to the young players, assist to a BIWPA training camps?
Those training camps are places without prejudices, with forward-looking. Its professionals work with an open concept, and their objectives are not only about sports training, they are also about academic and behavioural issues ( maybe it sounds very pedantic, but that’s the truth).

You also have your own channel on YouTube, dedicated to the modernization of the water polo. What would you think about that?
I would recommend it because it’s a very intense and open way to publish all of my experiences and goals. I have a Blog where I post and discuss everything that occurs to me. I previously had a website, but it unexpectedly disappeared into the vacuum of the ether. I don’t know what was the cause.

You have recently ‘retired’. Can someone come off water polo when it has been present in all your life?
I could never come off. It is part of my life as it’s my skin or my heart.

If you want to add something else, this is your moment to do it, thank you Mariano.
Great success and all kinds of good vibrations for an invention so excellent as it is the BIWPA. I envy you for having created something so brilliant.

Some days ago we posted the interview with the MVP of the Champions League, Albert Español. So, today we bring you the one that we did with Dani López-Pinedo and Marc Minguell, both also players of the C.N. Atlètic-Barceloneta (C.N.A.B), and of the water polo Spanish National Team.

We met them at the CAR, where they are preparing the imminent European championship.

They’ve done a gap in their tight agenda to talk with us, and they have signed us a Kap7 water polo bal which we will raffle among the participants of our Water Polo Summer Camps 2014 .

If you want it and you haven’t enrolled yet on our camps, hurry up because the camps will begin in less than a week. We’ll be waiting for you in Barcelona!

 matrc i dani

Interview with Marc Minguell and Dani Lopez-Pinedo BY YASMINA ARMESTO

How did you get in contact with water polo world?

D: Me and Marc and went to the same school, which had swimmingpool, in the district of Sants. At this school, there was a family who was a lover of the water polo. José Lorenzo, its father, proposed to create a group of students to play water polo as an extracurricular activity. Shortly after, the Club Esportiu Mediterrani announced some tryouts to attract new players. There began all, and since then, we haven’t stopped.

When did you start to play as professional players?

M: We knew that we could be profesional players when we began to play with the first team of our club and also with the National Team. It was at that moment when you realized that this could be your job.
D: The true is that we began to play water polo as an amusement. We were enjoying it, doing friends and it was motivating for us. In addition to this, our coaches give us the tools to progress, so we saw it very clear: at that moment we began n to get mad for this sport.

And you have conquered the LEN Champions League with the first team of the C.N.A.B. What was the most special moment of the competition?

M: One of them was the victory against Brescia, in the quarters final. We work many months to prepare that match so when we won, we began to believe that we could obtain the Champions.
D: For me the most emotional moment was when we went out of the swimming pool, after the final match. We went to find our families and friends. They know perfectly how much we had trained and suffered to achieve the championship. I remember that I was hugging my girlfriend, and i couldn’t avoid crying. It was very emotive.
M: Our families have been there in every match, when we won and when we lost. But I remember when we were waiting for the prizes. We were completely alone. We were all together in a corner of the swimming pool. It was there when I really realized of what we had achieved.

And now you’re preparing the Europeans with the National Team. What sensations do you have?

M: The club and the National Team are quite different: both have different players and different environments. On the one hand, the club is exigent; however it’s very familiar. I feel my club as a part of me. After so many years, it is like to be at home. We’ve been playing so many years with the Barceloneta that we can feel the club success as ours. But, on the other hand, being on the National Team is like to receive another prize. It’s a reward for the successes which you’ve obtained by your club.
D: It might be said that the club is the daily work. And play in the National Team is pretty much the same, but concentrated in two months. So, it’s more explosive. In the National Team all of us are professional players and all of us want to give our 100 %. They have chosen us because we are the best to represent the Spanish water polo so we must to give the best of you.

Spain, Atlètic Barceloneta… You spend almost the time together. Also with Albert Español. How is your relationship?

D: Marc and I sleep in the same room, both in the club and in the National Team. Sometimes I have to see him more than my girlfriend! And we also have a nice friendship with Albert. We’ve got moments for everything and we appreciate our friendship very much.
M: Our sport careers make us spend many hours together, many months, and with some players, maybe years. We are like a second family. In both cases: the National Team and the club.


Is water polo a kind of inbreeding world?

M: Logically a great majority of our friends has something that links them to water polo. It is a very small world. It goes as when you went to the school, so you made friends in the school, so you spoke, very often, about the things that happened in the school. If you play at water polo: you’ll have friends and will know people which are in the water polo world because they play or they’ve another link to it. It’s normal.
D: We have a group of friends in which not all of them have a link to this sport, and it also helps us. If it was not, we would be always speaking about the same thing. Of course they ask us about the club, the match, whatever.But after comment it, other topics come to talk about as it will happen in the other group of friends.

Did you feel, when you were young, that you were loosing things for being so dedicated to the sport?

D: I would not say it. Play sport doesn’t mean that you couldn’t go to events,or on holidays; but you do it once in a while, because you’have to train hard.
M: Probably when we were young, we never had the typical school summer vacations. Because in those three months, we were preparing with the National categories. Nevertheless, we have won in other aspects. In values, for example, that will be useful for us for many other fields of our daily life.
D: Moreover, in the summer, let’s be sincere, we preferred to be with a team of water polo, where we had friends, that being on the beach with our parents.

If you had not been water polo players, what would be your job?

D: Good question! I just can’t imagine… I began so younger that i’ve never asked me this.
M: In my case, I believe that I would have done what they all do: end high school, going to college…
D: Now, both are ending the business administration career. It has been difficult for the routine and the little available time, but it’s almost done.

Daniel Lopez Barceloneta

Could water polo be a long term job after your career as a player? 

D: I would love it. However the economic conditions do not allow you to live only by water polo. But I would like to teach everything what I have learned to the young talents. Maybe not as trainer, something more as psychological coaching. I would love to show them what we have learned and the things with which we have suffered. Only in order that they could apply that advice in their goals.
M: I am with Dani. There are many things that can be improved  into the sports education of the young athletes. And especially with the children, because they will be those who will become professionals some day. Our experience, also worldwide, might contribute at this very much.

Players of the height of Felipe Perrone or Anni Espar, have given masterclasses in our first BIWPA camp

D:Listen and be with them in a training session is a very good option for the new talents, for sure. They’ve a lot of experience and they still playing. The athletes should keep sharing their talent beyond the end of their chapter as players. They are  prepared and valid people. And if it is necessary, their countries should form them in order to make them capable of teaching.
M: You can’t forget that it is necessary to have a few educational skills at least, but any player who has been in the water polo professional level is a good source of information for the young who want to learn and grow in this sport.

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How do you see the popularity level of water polo on the streets? 

D: The Atlètic- Barceloneta is working very well on this issue. Many clubs might continue that way and also the Federation. Our club gives repercussion to the victories, but also to the day after day work. Barceloneta has been doing it for a few years: making people want to know more and more about water polo.
M: With good victory in water polo, should be quite easy to appear in the media. But a victory in water polo use to ‘live’not much than a week on the tv. A few days after, the other more common sports achieve the focus; so the amazing water polo victory it’s forgotten. However, the truth is that this kind of blindness makes defeats hurt less to us, because they do not remain so much time in the retina of the mass media.

Do you believe that the change of the regulation of water polo will make more people became interested in it?

D: I am very critical with the changes of regulation. The problem is not the sport. The problem is in the people who manage this sport and who does not know – or doesn’t want to –  develop it as it should be. I don’t know if they have or not the best background to manage this sport. But to change the rules is not the way. The way is in the powerful and structured well promotion of this sport.
M: They have already changed the regulation to try to make it showier. And nevertheless, it is the same people who follows it. I know that is difficult to understand a water sport if you are out of the swimming pool, or if you aren’t used to see a match, or if you unknown the game dynamics. It is complicated and it’s a disadvantage. But the changes of the regulation only make players, trainers and umpires become mad. These ‘ brilliant ideas ‘ only make the council sit together occasionally, but then these ideas do not serve for anything more.

Marc, Dani, thanks for your sincerity and for your time. We wish you the best, and a lot of luck in the Europeans.

D: Thanks to you.
M: It has been a pleasure.

Albert Español, Marc Minguell and Dani Lopez-Pinedo are three players from C.N. Atletic-Barceloneta  (CNAB). With their team they have won the LEN Waterpolo Champions League, the highest title in the history of this club.

Now, Albert, Marc and Dani are concentrated at the CAR of Sant Cugat with the Spanish National Team. They are working together with their peers and their couch, Gaby Hernandez,to prepare the Europeans at Budapest.

We went to the CAR to interview them… And they signed a Water Polo Summer Camps!

Today we bring you the interview we did to Albert Español. And soon we’ll publish the other ones, with Dani and Marc .

We want to thank all three for receiving us and for giving us the signed ball. Thank you boys!

Interview with Albert Español BY YASMINA ARMESTO

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1 – How did you get in contact with water polo?

By chance. I was 10 and I was in a summer camp. One day, some staff from C.N. Poble Nou came to do some tests for their water polo team. They told me that they liked me and would call me, but that never happened. And since then i wanted to play water polo, so my mother enroll us, me and my brother, to C.N. Barceloneta. It has been always my team.

2 – At what point did you realize that you can play at the professional level?

From 10 to 13 years I combined water polo with other sports. But the coaches were very demanding and the level was very high. So when I was 13 I left the rest to focus in water polo. With 15, I debuted with the first team and I already knew it was my passion and I wanted to get to the top.

3- You get there with Barceloneta: you won the Champions League at home.

It was a sweet victory. We were candidates and organizers. We wanted to play well and we were very excited, but it was difficult to win. However, we always believed in us. We were a very close team, we worked well together, and that was decisive.

4 – Moreover, you received the MVP, it was a double triumph. 

Winning the Champions League was a dream that we had in our mind, but MVP was not a thing that I had on my mind. I was only aware of the competition. So win the MVP of the LEN Champions League was the best climax, it was like a gift.

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5- What is your favorite memory the competition?

I remember with emotion the last minute of the final. The moment in which you realize that the cup is already yours, in which you understand that you will win the Champions League. That was a great moment. But I also remember the semi-finals. The opponent was very strong, so beat them was also very nice.

6-Now you’re with the National Team, how we will see Albert Español?

A few years ago I had a more secondary role. But now there is greater convergence between what I do in the club, and in the National Team. The National Team is always very demanding and puts you over the limit. People prepare the competition very well and very strong because the rivals are the best players of the best clubs. So I will give the 100%.

7-You are in the same club and National Team with Dani López-Pinedo and Marc. Together everywhere. How is it?

We enjoy it. I compare us with college friends who spend a lot of time together, laughing and enjoying. We are always making jokes, in good humor, and that’s very nice. Because the people of our age, due to the routine and their works, have lost this kind of relationships; and we do not. I love it.

amigos para siempre

8- You’ve completely dedicated your youth to water polo, do you feel that you have lost some things?

Many! With 15 or 16, you’re a bit frustrated because you cannot go traveling to celebrate the end of the school, or you can’t go out with your friends on Friday. So you cannot do what it’s ‘normal’ at your age. But you do other things that are unique and that other people can never do, like going to the Olympics. I would not change anything of my youth.

9 – If you weren’t water polo player, how would be your life?

I would be an industrial engineer, which is what I’ve studied. When my water polo career will end, I would not mind starting something totally different, like being an engineer. Water polo is my life and my profession, but I’ve done a really hard degree, so I would like to use it someday.

10 – Would you work in water polo as a coach or trainer?

If I had the opportunity, of course yes. I don’t close doors to anything and less when it comes to water polo.

11- It is said that FINA and LEN will amend the regulation to make “water polo more attractive”…

I humbly believe that it is not the way. I don’t think that changing the rules will make more people followwater polo. It is already a beautiful sport to watch. Maybe on TV is a little slow, but watch a live match amazes all who see it for the first time. The water polo promotion goes for other actions such as internet broadcasting, talk about it in the media, or socialization and awareness of the people. It is not about game rules.

12 – What do you think of BIWPA’s camps?

It seems a very good initiative. When I was a child, I came to train in CAR on holidays. Train in summer makes you improve your game very much. You train with very good players and coaches, and you work hard. So at the end of the summer, when you return to your club, it is easy to see who have had that preparation and who not. So I recommend it.

13 – What advice would you give to kids who want to go far in the world of water polo?

Where there’s a will there’s a way. If you struggle to get what you really want, you have many chances to get it. But you have to want by all means. To say ‘I want this’ is easy. What really makes a difference is to fight, train hard every day. Work hard, be persistent and believe in yourself. That’s the way to get it.

14 – Albert Thanks for your time, and make us fit into your busy routine. We wish you all the luck!

It has been a pleasure, thank you.

Toni Esteller

BIWPA team has had the opportunity to interview Toni Esteller, an internationally renowned water polo coach.

Born in Barcelona in 1955, Esteller has been the National Spanish Water Polo Team coach, and his career has been linked to CN Barcelona water polo club, for more than 20 years.

Throughout this interview, you’ll see how his understanding of water polo is influenced from his strong personality, both in sport and in daily life.

Direct and sincere, he doesn’t mince words, he doesn’t leave anyone indifferent. We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we enjoyed talking to him.

Hi Toni! For those who do not know you, how will you define yourself as a coach?
My greatest attribute is the ability to understand the players: both in training and in matches. I can read what they do, what they think and how they act. I am very stubborn, or rather, very insistent. At all.

You have been the coach of your own son, Joel. How was the experience?
I was particularly demanding with him. As a coach, you are prepared for a lot of situations, but I think nobody is prepared to train their own blood. It’s almost impossible to separate the human side from the sport side, so imagine how difficult it was in those circumstances. As a coach, I was too hard with my son. He took it better than me, because he has endured impossible situations.

Toni Esteller

And how do you remember your time as the Spanish National Team coach?
I have different memories. I was very young, around 32 years old, when I started training the absolute team. And meanwhile, there was a boycott against me …

Of C.N. Montjuïc. During my first year as national coach, I combined it with the task of coaching CN Catalunya. C.N. Montjuïc, one of my opponents in the Spanish league at the time, wanted to prove that being CN Catalunya’s coach while I was training the National Team could generate me a conflict of interest.

Was there such a conflict of interest?
I followed strictly sport reasons. Please remember that I accepted the federation’s proposal to train the absolute once the league had already begun. But Montjuïc’s team still thought that I would favor the C.N.Catalunya. Even after I select 8 Montjuïc’s players for the absolute team, the high pressure still continued.

How did you face that pressure?
I believe that everything that happens to you, teaches you as a coach and as a person. Not only the boycott teaches me. Also other things have formed me: the transition of the national water polo team; resign due to the differences with steering committee… All that set of feelings and experiences is what generates the learning of the individual and the coach, it’s a continuous process.

Why did you quit as the Spanish water polo team coach?
First of all, I went in and I found a boycott, and I thought: “What is this?!”. Then, after making the transition team, certain differences with the directive, about the approach of the Olympics in 1992, made me decide: I resigned. And I resigned only one and a half year before of achieving the dream of any water polo coach: be the Spanish National Team Coach for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Do you regret your decision?
It was hard. A lot. And I have to admit that at first, I didn’t want to live the Olympics, I would rather go on vacation. But my wife encouraged me to face the Olympics. And fortunately, Santi Carreras from Catalunya Radio, gave me the opportunity to live the experience of the Olympics as a journalist, working in their radio broadcasting. And I’ll always be grateful to him, because it was an amazing and different experience. So thanks to that, finally I really enjoyed the Olympic movement, in a way that I would never expect.

What do you think about water polo’s social consideration in our country?
We must be critical. In Catalunya we brag to be a multidisciplinary sports country. We are proud of our athletes, we have many Olympic, etc. But it isn’t enough. I can see more and more Franco’s time reminisces in politicians’ attitudes about sports issues. In Franco’s era, soccer and bulls were used as a political element. Currently, the soccer has some similar connotation, because a group of politicians uses this sport for achieving their own political considerations. I miss a more true, solid and clear support for the minority sports, like water polo needs.

What do you mean exactly?
The political elites fill their mouths every four years, or when we win a world hockey championship. But beyond that, in our day to day, that support doesn’t exist. I would like to make them understand that there is something more than the Barça-Madrid match in the Catalan sports life. And despite of being an FCB supporter – I’m a really culé-, I consider that the political elite is concerned to go to sports events only if they report them media presence, as Barça matches do. Furthermore, FC Barcelona is an entity that is fully consolidated at street! Politicians still go to their matches although the FCB does not require the political support. They should support all the other sports that really ‘needs them’, such as water polo.

Toni Esteller

But some political representatives have assisted to other sports matches, isn’t it?
Political elites have sport as a tool for the polls. The discourse of the political caste in relation to minority sports are all words, and only a few actions. The politicians just come to watch the matches of sports (considered native, or minority sports) on rare occasions or when the elections are close. It’s that clear.

What do you suggest?
I’d like Mr. Mas (Catalonia’s President) come to watch, for example, a water polo match at any time, and when no one expects him. Such a gesture would help to understand that there are more sports than football. With his presence, he would imply much more than sending the Councilor for Sports; and it would also help to disseminate and enhance the Catalan culture and our sports.

Is Catalonia a leader in water polo’s world?
In this country we have very valid ideas to support water polo, and another ones to support all the other ‘minority’ sports; but all of us need more. In water polo case, BIWPA’s project forward and shows that Catalans have much to say and to do for this water polo. So with a bit more institutional support, and social consideration, with CAR of Sant Cugat’s facilities, with all the clubs, the National Team, and along with many other agents, Catalunya can be erected in a short term as a major world leader in water polo, for sure.

What do you think about BIWPA’s project?
Featuring an unusual and highly dynamic approach, BIWPA’s project is already a solid reality. Very often, and for different reasons, clubs can not absorb the individual growth, and the development to the excellence, of each player. So, more and more, theses periods for sport technification are necessary and very useful, both for clubs and players. BIWPA is a very good new and  an attractive idea, so I want it to be a very successful platform, because it facilitates the improvement of any national or international player. This project goes far beyond the common concept of an entertainment sports program or camp. It is a serious commitment about the young water polo players and their improvement to achieve the sporting excellence.

Finally, could you answer with a few words to complete the sentences … ?
Beach or pool … beach.
A favorite food … ‘arroz a banda’, a south-catalonian typical rice cooked in fish broth, accompanied by alioli sauce.
Water polo is … a sport and a fantastic job.
A good-luck charm or ritual … I haven’t any now, but the last good-luck charm was my daughter’s doll: a green frog. It was funny because as my son was on the water, my daughter’s doll was in my hand.
A slogan to win … it doesn’t exist, that’s for books. I believe in preparation.
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Thank you for your time Toni!
Thank you too, and wish you all the best with BIWPA’s project