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.
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!
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.
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.
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.