All posts in Water Polo Femenino

Alejandra Aznar USC

After clinching gold and the MVP trophy at the European Youth Water Polo Championships with the Spanish national team, Alejandra Aznar moved to the United States in the 2018-19 season. The young and talented leftie (2000) is one of the great hopes of the future and present of the Spain’s senior team.

In the current Academic year, Aznar has played for one of the top universities on the West Coast of the United States, USC Los Angeles. She finished runner-up in the women’s water polo national championship and also with her club team in Spain, CN Sant Andreu.

 

How has your experience been in the United States?

I have learned a lot. Living far from home and alone, with a different language and country is not easy… In terms of water polo, there are many different things in comparison to Spain.

 

Why did you decide to take your first college year in California?

The truth is that juggling academics and water polo is very easy in the US. Playing and studying in the same place makes it very convenient. Also, when I finished high school in Barcelona I wanted to start a new experience far from home, and now that I’m young I think it’s the best moment.

 

How would you rate this year in the US together with your teammate in Sant Andreu, Mireia Guiral?

She is my best friend and the truth is that things have been much easier with her, because I knew I could count on her in case there were bad moments. Even though I never had to face any tough time, it was always good to have her at home after training on when I needed a break.

 

The next season is prior to the Toquio Olympic Games … Will you stay in USC or home?

Next year I will continue with my club team in Barcelona, CN Sant Andreu. Next year there will be many calls-up and trainings with the national team in preparation for the Olympic Games, that’s why I think I really need to be home.

 

What is your main objective at the sports level for the season 19-20?

Being able to make it for the last calls-up with the national team and take advantage of these practices to learn and improve.

 

How do you see the Spanish team? Do you see yourself with possibilities to enter the team and maybe go to the Olympic Games?

It’s very difficult and on top of that they have reduced the number of players permitted in the squad. It is still early to draw conclusions, but what I can assure is that I will train the hardest I can to make it until the last trainings.

 

Do you plan to return to the United States at some point during your college period?

I think this is something I have in my mind. The truth is that I adjusted quite well to the California lifestyle and I like pretty much everything about living in the US.

 

How different is American water polo compared to Spain?

In the US everything is very planned and marked, all teams do a lot tactical work, specially where I’ve played (USC). Referees call kickouts very easily in the center position, so you have to be very focused in the defence. I also think there’s more contact here when playing.

 

In what aspects do you think you stand out more than other local players due to the fact that you have trained in one of the water polo capitals of the world?

I think that technique is the most important skill that I have practiced since I started playing water polo, both in my club teams in Barcelona and also in the high performance center CAR Sant Cugat. I think that’s not something in the US people focus on that much.

 

Undoubtedly, Spain is one of the top countries in women’s water polo. Still, the United States team seems unbeatable. Why do you think that happens?

I think they are physically ahead of the rest of the teams. I also think that they have very good technique, but I believe the physical aspect is what makes the difference.

 

What would you highlight the most about how to train and play in California?

As I said, teams prepare a lot every game. When I arrived, they gave me a folder to write down the plays and the planning of each game. During the week you already know what plays we will do in each quarter and how we will defend in the weekend game.

The University of California, Los Angeles, better known as UCLA, has trusted in BIWPA to help the women’s water polo team start off their season in Barcelona.

UCLA took part in a team training camp and the girls, led by Brandon Brooks, had a 10-day stay in the Catalan capital where they combined training sessions, friendly matches and leisure and cultural activities.

“Barcelona was always at the top list of my favorite cities in the world, so I wanted to have a chance to bring my girls here and get to see the city and the community. Also, the Spanish women’s water polo is very high”, assures Brandon.

High level trainings

The training days were composed of double training sessions and friendly matches against teams of Barcelona and its metropolitan area such as CN Mataró, CN Rubí and CE Mediterrani.

To carry out their trainings, the girls enjoyed the magnificent facilities of Montjuïc Olympic pool, with spectacular views that the city of Barcelona has to offer, and Centre Natació Mataró which is recognized for its beachside facilities.

“The facilities are great. Two facilities right on the beach and one up in Montjuïc; you can’t say any pool is really any prettier than this one. We had dinner in some excellent restaurants, the food was great, the people were great…we had an excellent time” assures Brandon.

Olympic background

The team also consisted of two Olympic players like Rachel Fattal and Maddie Musselman, who both win gold medals in the summer Rio 2016 Olympics.

In addition, Brandon Brooks, who took over as coach in 2009, was part of the United States national team who participated in Athens 2004 Olympics and Beijing 2008.

In 2007, the UCLA women’s water polo team gave their University a national title, number 100, a record that stands in the NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association.

VIDEO – Watch UCLA experience in Barcelona

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The Greek team has won the gold at the European Junior Championship that has taken place in Ostia, Italy. After beating Italy 6-7 in the final, the Greek players return home as Europe champions, repeating the title already won the European U17 in Istanbul, 2013.

At the end of the tournament, Eleftheria Plevritou, one of the players combined Greek, has won the  MVP title, while teammate Chrysuola Diamantopoulou, was chosen best goalkeeper.

The Spanish team, after losing to Greece in the semifinals, got to take the bronze against the powerful Hungarian team. The “little warriors” show their possibilites after beating Hungary 6-7 in a match in which they knew perfectly how to execute the forward defense to drown the Hungarian releases.

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Xavi Pérez, female junior team coach, is more than satisfied with a “well worked” medal. Perez says “the game against Greece was very hard, but we faced them even though they were better,” he also adds that the attitude of the young players against Hungary brought to Spain this medal.

BIWPA wants to congratulate both teams for the great work done in the tournament. We hope our “little warriors” keep giving us such good news adding more titles to their resume.

The Spanish women’s water polo team has achieved the bronze medal in the World Cup which was held in Khanty Mansyisk (Russia) after beating China (7-5). Miki Oca‘s girls, with new faces given the low champions of Europe for some rest, have won the first medal in the history of Spanish women’s water polo in a World Cup.

The “warriors” have managed to remain competitive in a competition that began with a big win over Singapore (34-3), and continued with a 12-5 against China. Although they lost to Russia (7-6), were ranked first group, crossing to South Africa in the quarterfinals (12-2).

However, when meeting Australia in the semifinal they lost 8-2, leaving themselves with no option to the gold medal. In the consolation final they clearly imposed the Chinese (7-5), with a great performance by Anni Espar, BIWPA ambassadress, who scored four goals.

Again Miki Oca’s girls make history with the first medal at a World Cup and after becoming champions of Europe, demonstrating the high level of women’s water polo in Spain.

For the first time in its history, the Spanish women’s water polo team has been proclaimed European champion after defeating the Dutch team 10-5 in the final of the European Competition in Budapest.

The current world champions, who also took silver at London 2012, have achieved their first continental title after staying with silver in the European in Malaga 2008.

The Spanish team won the final with a partial 3-3, 2-0, 2-2 and 3-0. In the first quarter, the Dutch went ahead twice, but thanks to Maica Garcia and Andrea Blas, the “warriors” responded with goals in the 2 meter buoy, position they usually occupy, forming the best pair of buoys today. In the second quarter Anni Espar, BIWPA Ambassadress, changed paths with two crossed shots, the second of numerical superiority, coming to rest with a 5-3 lead.

In the third quarter, Miki Oca‘s team reached ahead 7-4 thanks to the work of Andrea Blas in her area and a setback kick of Maica Garcia from six yards. The final quarter became an offensive and defensive recital of the warriors, who scored twice (Roser Tarrago, Maica Garcia), leaving the final 10-5 that gave the gold to Spain.

BIWPA wants to congratulate  Miki Oca’s “warriors” for  this new victory and Miki himself and all his staff. It is a great moment for the Spanish women’s water polo, but we know that is just the beginning, as the “warriors” make up a team that has only changed a name in three years, with an average age of just 23 years. There are still many more wins to come. Congratulations girls!

At the beginning, I thought to talk about water polo as a sport with ephemeral success or about less social and media impact, but I am not going to appeal or complain for that, because I think this feeling should be put it behind. The point is that we are stronger because we are different, unique, and besides, we’re good. We cannot talk about minority sport attending the successful results (not only in recent seasons, but also past 2 decades), the outburst of women’s water polo, the number of clubs competing at lower levels and their technical improvement, the amazing coaching, etc. Of course we can improve more than that but this is not our feeling, at least in Catalonia where we work to be better every single day. We do things to go forward, not backwards.

If we take a look back, we find a golden 2013 year in terms of results, especially the female team: April 27th, CN Sabadell female proclaimed European Clubs Champion in Hungary, after a hellish environment in semifinals. On August 2nd, in Bernat Picornell pools in Barcelona, the Spanish Women National Team was, for the first time ever, World Champion, amid a frenzied crowd. The 25th of the same month, in Volos, Greece, the Spanish Juniors made silver medal in the World U20. And, to finish the round, the youngest, the sub17, 2 weeks later, on September 8th, made silver medal in Europe sub17 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Shortly and concisely speaking, the women’s water polo season has been spectacular. And if you take a look a little further back in time, we will see that this success is the result of a really hard work. Female silver medal in the London Olympics 2012, Female World Junior Champion in Trieste (Italy), and the silver medal the male Junior team in Greece in 2011. In the summer, the female sub17 made ​​3rd Europe in Madrid, and the male sub17 made also 3rd in Rijeka (Croatia), plus of the 1st European Cup Women won by CN Sabadell. I’ll throw no further to the head, but enough has been achieved in terms of medals and finals and semifinals played. Besides, I only speak about international results, because nationwide successes are indisputable for our water polo. And I speak for all water polo without recognizing gender or age.

Ferran Plana

Ferran in Portugalete 2014

My point of view is not to compare water polo with other sports, because everyone is working to their fullest potential in terms of the (human and material) resources available, but if we look at other sports in our country, it seems difficult to find any other with same success in different categories and genres (I quote only basketball, year after year busting all medalists in men and women at all ages. BRAVO for them!).

These memories of recent times do nothing more than highlighting the results and translate the many, many hours of work and volume of desire and enthusiasm invested in our sport, water polo, both the players, the technical staff and many other people (to say the least, they do absolutely everything) that are responsible for implementing sports programs for clubs and federations.

The Spanish level has also risen, as well as the number of clubs and the overall development of water polo, but the Catalan level (which is actually the one I have more knowledge of)
has exponentially increased in recent years in terms of players, equipment, and technical structure.  A huge evolution.

A clear example of that was what happened on October 6th, coinciding with the Catalan Cup of the National League, where 43 catalan women water polo players, were rewarded for their amazing season 2012-2013 (yes!, you read well, 43!) for having been international medalists in the last season, on top of the 5 technicians who were part of the successful staffs (both in National teams and clubs). All these awards are just the tip of the spear of a sport in many places regarded as a minority, but that we consider different and unique, and that in Catalonia is very powerful and has a very good health at all ages and genders. And as far as I know,water polo is also spreading widely outside Catalonia (Basque Country, Navarra, Zaragoza and Sevilla, to cite clear examples), and scramble every day to grow in every way and without thinking whether they are better, lower or equal: they work hard. And we do too.

However, the economic situation is very, very tough. Clubs think how to get through their low incomes without dropping their investment, in my opinion, in the most important thing, the lower categories and the formation of new young players. On the other hand, the water polo Federation tries to fit this technical needs with the economic situation of the clubs (short distance commuting, short tournaments, intensification of the weekends…). Do not forget that there is always the main idea that we are “professionals” of water polo (this expression does not go with work hours, salary, etc, but it goes with the availability that each of us has). Finally this is a sport, a right and a pleasure. Just a few of us have the privilege of educating through sport.

Water polo

Ferran Plana-spanish seleccion U18

We would like to go out a lot more in the media, but don’t be naive … our country (Spain or Catalonia; I will not go into this debate) has no sports culture generally speaking. In fact, it just has a soccer culture! And the rest goes behind, because what people read, watch and talk about is soccer, sometimes about basketball and of course about Alonso and Nadal. This is it! The rest has to “compete” to appear rarely in the media. And if we briefly show up (due tonational and international events) it means that we are doing well, very well. Even when instantly the society forgets our effort, we keep working, just to reappear again, most of the times thanks to very engaged fans following our victories and showing how self-sacrificing this sport is. If during the season, “we catch” any article, any document, any cuts in a sports or news program, this is more than welcome! And believe me, on a smaller scale so many clubs, federations, associations, coaches and players have entered in the 2.0 age: Twitter, Facebook, profiles, blogs, web pages... with the main purpose to show up and to spread among all of us the information that we want. Although slowly, for sure these new tools are approaching to us to the rest of the world. 

To finish with, I hope that I have achieved my goal with these lines: leave the banners and prejudices that see us as a minority sport. No excuses and worries anymore, we want solutions. Instead of complaining, we should change and fit in. The only way is to work hardly, as other minority sports do. This is the only philosophy and way: feeling completely full and confident, so that step by step, we gradually achieve the same vision of those who watch us from “outside “.

Equipo Nacional

Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.

El Waterpolo femenino Español está que se sale. Si en el 2012 se coronaba subcampeona olímpica y en el 2011 se colgaban la mee cdalla de Campeonas del Mundo junior U20 y también bronce en el Europeo U17, este año ha sido Campeón del Mundo absoluto y subcampeón del Mundo Junior U20, además de ser otra vez campeón de Europa dlubs con el C.N. Sabadell. Increíble el historial de uno de los deportes más jóvenes de nuestra casa!!

Todo ello cimentado en una metodología de entrenamiento y aplicación de las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas al deporte, llevada acabo por los técnicos de clubs y que tiene su máximo exponente en el Centro de Tecnificación de Barcelona, ubicado en las instalaciones del CAR de Sant Cugat, de donde se nutren llas selecciones junior y juvenil, y por supuesto también la selección absoluta de Micky Oca.

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No hay palabras para poder describir lo que se vivió la noche del 2 de agosto en las piscinas Picornell de Barcelona. La selección femenina de waterpolo, con 8 jugadoras surgidas de clubs catalanes y habiendo realizado un periodo de formación de 4 años en el centro de Tecnificación de la Federación Catalana de Natación en el CAR de Sant Cugat, se han proclamado campeonas del Mundo!!!! Las chicas de Miki Oca jugaron la final contra Australia a quien vencieron con solvencia y seguridad con un 8 a 6 final. Laura Ester, se llevo el premio de mejor portera y Jennifer Pareja, MVP!!!

Las ibéricas sabían que una final del Mundial en Barcelona no se les podía escapar. Era un juramento secreto que se habían hecho entre ellas, no se podía escapar. Y con la naturalidad del que sabe lo que tiene que hacer, poco a poco fueron marcando el ritmo del partido, avanzándose en los primeros minutos por 2 a 0 y llegando al final del 1r periodo con un 1 a 2 para España. El equipo fue delante en el marcador en todo momento con parciales de 2-3, 1-1 y 2-2 al final. Quizás el punto álgido o como suele denominar Pepe Brasco, psico momment!! Fue en el minuto 3.06 del cuarto periodo cuando el equipo recibió un penalti en contra con un resultado de 5 a 8, el partido pudo cambiar por completo en ese momento, pero Laura Ester paró el lanzamiento de penalti y ahí se decidió el partido. Poco a poco y sin perder los nervios y con las cosas muy claras con la dirección magistral de Miki Oca, el equipo fue haciendo camino hacia su objetivo, hasta llegar al final y proclamarse Campeonas del Mundo.