Thanks to our Team Training Camp we have been able to have the community pools of Monjuic for two foreign teams during this week. On one hand, [we have] the young men of CNAC (Portugal), and on the other the female cadet of Melville (Australia). Both teams have trained throughout the week in double sessions, with the invaluable help of a Catalan team to intensify the practices, in this case the CN Rubí.
A developing sport
This is how Filipe Oliveira (Coímbra coach) and his players Henrique Silva and Tiago Dinis (International U17) define the water polo in Portugal. “The situation isn’t good. There isn’t very much culture, the country only thinks about soccer and doesn’t offer support to the other sports. There is little outreach so it is costly to try to gain momentum to get on the level of other countries like Spain for example”, assured Oliveira. In the opinion of the three, the Portuguese players need to improve their fitness and strength, in addition to learn[ing] the best tactical basis to reach the elite. Without going any further a player who reaches the level of the Spanish, French or Italians is seen as a rare breed.
If we stop the focus in practice, Tiago Dinis tells us that the main differences are the “in Spain they train with much more intensity, in addition to employing more hours of training, especially outside of the pool. They focus on developing the tactical/technical part and the strength of the players. The workouts here are more specific, while Portugal we touch base on swimming and passing.” Additionally, the Portuguese coaches generally have difficulty finding solutions to the problems of their equipment due to a lack of proper training.
Henrique Silva believes that the fact of playing in CN Rubí is very positive for the Coímbra as it helps them improve their competitiveness: “in Portugal we are one of the best teams, but if we played in Barcelona’s league we would be competing for last place. The teams in Barcelona are more physical, taller and have better ball control than us.” Something that his teammate agrees with, adding that they are also “more intelligent, their movements are automatic because they train more, [they are] very organized and [there is a] great understanding between them. They don’t need to be quicker than us because they’re smarter”, said Dinis.
Finally, the assessment of the role of BIWPA in this camp is extremely positive in all aspects. For the coach, Filipe Oliveira, he noted that it enables “see[ing] another way of life, meet[ing] people at different levels and experience, to try to be the best in the world. Our goal should be to reach the level of Spain”.
Improve from the same idea
Quite different is the case of Melville, a team from a small Australian town. We talked to three members of the female cadet: the coach Chloe Nella and players Brooke Pensini and Sarah Leavy. For the coach the water polo in is going through a good time, practicing a style that is “more physical, stronger, and quicker. Overall we train during the same hours as in Barcelona, even though in Australia there is only on pool for male and female teams, so is it difficult to do as much as we would like”, confesses Nella.
Their team chose as part of their program video sessions for morning workouts where the players can see from under water cameras their mistakes that they later correct in the pool with BIWPA coach Xavi Belaguer. For Sarah Leavy it’s an essential help to improve “different perspectives, such as the placement and use of the legs”.
In regards to the general practices, they don’t differ much from what they do in Australia, because as Brooke Pensini tells us they have “similar exercises and objectives. In Barcelona it is true that they are harder, you need to act and think quickly in order to take advantage of situations.” Thanks in part to the help of CN Rubí who has been a worthy support for the Australian cadets. The three members of Melville agree in pointing out that this is a physical and very competitive team that is also very organized.
In closing, there are always words of gratitude for the BIWPA experience, according to Chloe Nella “it has made us faster, stronger and more physical. The girls have learned to grab the opponents, hold the defenders and take advantage of it. Additionally, the defense has learned to stop the drive of their mark”