INTERVIEW BY YASMINA ARMESTO
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.
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.
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 www.waterpolodementa.blogspot.com 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.