Will France 2019 change the paradigm of Women’s football?

This year France will host the 8th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. 24 out of 130 national teams affiliated to FIFA will participate in the tournament that will start on June. 52 matches, 9 venues and 16 TV broadcasters following one dream: become World Champions.

Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, anticipated that 2019 will be the year that will change the paradigm of women’s football forever. A high stake but also a real one, given the records that the discipline is constantly beating, which made more girls from many countries get to know and start practicing this sport.

June the 7th will be the starting day of the World Cup, which will last one month. France, USA, Germany, China and Sweden are the favorites to win the trophy.

24 national teams from all over the world (CAF: Africa – AFC: Asia – UEFA: Europe – Concacaf: North America and Central America – OFC: Oceania – Conmebol: South America) will participate in the tournament, divided into 6 groups of 4. The first and second of each group, together with the 4 best thirds will qualify to the round of 16.

There will be 9 venues distributed in different points of the country: Lyon, Grenoble, Le Havre, Montpellier, Nice, Paris, Reims, Rennes and Valenciennes. All 52 matches of the tournament will be broadcasted by TV networks such as DirecTV, Fox, BBC and others.

USA will be the team receiving most of the attention, having reached 4 finals and achieving 3 titles, the most in history, followed by Germany with 2, and Norway and Japan with 1.

Some of the major figures on the competition will be the American goalkeeper Hope Solo, distinguished as the best goalkeeper in the last two world cups, Beckie, young promise of Canada and current player of Manchester City, and the local Henry, who was recognized by FIFA as one of the ten best players of 2018. Regrettably, Marta, all-time top scorer of World Cups with 15 goals for Brazil, might miss the competition due to family issues.

Only a few months away from the beginning of the tournament, and as FIFA usually does with this kind of events of high attendance, tickets are already on sale and they are expected to surpass the quantity issued on 2015 World Cup in Canada.

Based on official data from FIFA, the influence of women’s football is notorious, with 45 million women practicing the discipline today. To continue with this growth, in 2015 a program for the development of women’s football was implemented, with over 130 associations involved. Also, each Federation has to present a program of aid to women and kids in order to participate in FIFA competitions. In this way, women’s football has achieved a growth without precedents in this sport, and the future seems to be even brighter.

Agustín Palmisciano.

Translation by: Julián Luppi

Ariel Quassi: “We discuss about structure instead of methodology to improve our sport”

He was born with spinal atrophy and got to swim through a medical recommendation to his parents. “Ever since I can remember I’m in contact with water”, recognized Ariel Quassi. During his childhood he trained and competed with children without disabilities. In 1997, with 14 years, he participated for the first time in a paralympic swimming tournament, in the city of Santa Fe, Argentina. “I found a world that shocked me, every boy or girl had some kind of disability”, remembered about his first experience in adapted sports.

He became champion on his first competence at national level, and so he was called to join the national team. In 1998, despite having qualified to the World Championship in New Zeland, he remained out of the call. “It was really hard, I was very young. I didn’t want to swim no more. Litte by little I got recovered and could train again”. After the deception, he had his own revenge in the Panamerican Games of 1999, where he got the qualification for the first of his four participations in Paralympic Games. “That first Game was the breakpoint, there I started to meet the elite of paralympic swimming”.

Current Sports Director at the DeportIC program, project based on the Argentinean provinces of Chaco, Corrientes and Buenos Aires, with 90 active athletes. At his 36 years, he recognizes: “The idea is to retire on August 2019 after the Panamerican Games in Lima”.

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Why will you get retired?

 I wanted to do it in Rio 2016, but it wasn’t possible. I went into surgery that year, and then I participated in the World Championship of 2017. I had chosen to retire in the South American Games of 2018 in Buenos Aires, but I wasn’t able to do so. I’ve been postponing it till now. I want to finish my career at a major tournament.

How is your preparation for this highly competitive tournament?

I train every day. I’m pretty obsessive and I try to rise to the challenge. From Mondays to Saturdays, I only have 10 free days a year. Double shift, gym workout. I always have a medical and nutritional follow up.

Is it any different the way to get ready to compete for an athlete with a disability than for one without it?

Preparation is exactly the same, the only thing that changes is due to the specificities of each of the disabilities. Considering that, the volume of trainings can change, or some exercises that are doable or not. In the paralympic sports, work is based on the abilities of the person with a disability.

What are your future expectations after August?

I’ve been teaching at university for 11 years now. I started very young, at 25, and I’ll keep on doing it, together with a sports director position at a project for children with disabilities where I’ve been working for the last 2 years. The truth is that I like the coach function. Besides, with what’s been going on (in Argentina the National Department of Sports was brought down to an agency by decree of the Government), I have been called from both the ENARD (the Argentinean national entity of high-performance sports) and the COA (Argentinean Olympic Committee) to participate in different meetings, given my experience and the way I am.

What is the current situation after the transfer of the Department of Sports to agency through a decree?

It’s something that got us convulsed. The decree took us by surprise. You could listen to people talking about the transfer, but nobody expected the way it occurred, through a decree. I think some tough months will come, thanks to the lack of skill from the directors that decided this just before the Panamerican Games.

Also it’s a political decision taken too close from the YOG held at Buenos Aires.

Yes, it’s a very inappropriate time to take such a sensitive decision. I believe that this kind of sportive decisions should be taken within the sportive periods. I mean, if you have an olympic period, you should respect it, and then make the corresponding modifications. I think that it’d have been more reasonable to wait for Tokio 2019 and then see how to restructure the Argentinean sport.

How does this “new” reality impact on the preparation of the athletes?

The fact is that the ENARD changed the reality of our sport, because it highly increased the support. Before that, we were under the orbit of the Department of Sports. Although there were some difficulties to work together, these two organisms were developing well. We’ll see how it evolves with the proposed changes. They discuss about the structure instead of the methodology and where to aim.

Do these political decisions hide any kind of business?

If it were a business that benefits the athletes and the society, it’d be very welcome. The problem is when the business only favors those who make it. For example, if the Agency of Sports will work with privates and that will benefit the athletes, then that’s fine. Now, if they’re going to do it without any benefit for the athletes, then that’s not good at all. Businesses not always have to be seen badly, but it’s important to keep an eye on how they impact on the athlete.

How does the move of the CENARD affect?

Argentina has a problem related to infrastructure, both the existing and the inexistent. The existing needs to be updated, but there’s too many inexistent, and although sport is still not federalized the way it should be, the concentration of population in Buenos Aires plays a major role. With the creation of a new facility and the destruction of the old one, a unique chance of having two sportive centers gets lost. The only sense for the replacement of one for the other is a business that doesn’t benefit the sport nor the athletes. Besides, for the Olympic Park to work as the CENARD a huge investment is necessary. It would be much more reasonable that the CENARD is kept, and to start to update or modify the Olympic Park, because the competition facilities are located there, but not the containment to the athlete. Also, there’s a school at the CENARD which they want to close instead of moving.

What are the explanations coming from the authorities?

One of the arguments is that it would be too expensive to keep both facilities. The truth is that the adjustments should be made where things are being done wrong, and not where they are being done well…

 So it only answers to a real estate business?

The official info is that the movement costs USD 25.000.000 of investment. With that amount they could easily keep both facilities. If it’s an excuse, I don’t believe it. It’s more than enough to keep and develop both sport centers the way they need.

Do you picture yourself in charge of a managerial position?

Yes, maybe. I lived through many good and bad managements. I enjoy much more being aside of the swimming pool and training, but I wouldn’t discard it. In Avellaneda (city located in the suburbs of Buenos Aires), where I come from, I’m an assessor in the sports area. I like to help the sport to develop, for today’s athletes and for future generations.

What’s necessary to promote the sport development in Argentina?

Many things are missing. First, there has to be real political support to sports, which never happened before, not even with the ENARD. We need to match the sports with two other actors of great importance, such as health and education, in order to work together both in the Olympics as in the Paralympics. Another important part is the communication. We are a country oriented to a few sports, and we barely know the existence of the others, totally ignoring them.

Agustín Palmisciano.

Translation by: Julián Luppi

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NBA: Every transaction of the 2019 Winter Market

The most important thing about the closure of the NBA transfer market is what didn’t happen. Anthony Davis, who asked to be transferred a few weeks ago, will still playing for the New Orleans Pelicans for some more time.

The non-transfer of Davis isn’t due to lack of interest from other teams. Los Angeles Lakers offered almost all their roster and draft rounds for “the brow”, but the Pelicans decided that it wasn’t the proper time, and they expect to get better offers when market reopens at the end of the season. Towards that direction moved the Clippers and the Knicks. Both franchises decided to get rid of many assets to create the necessary space to go for Davis and some other “big fish” on the next market opening.

The Clippers removed Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, Avery Bradley and Marcin Gortat (this last one waived). In exchange, they received many free agents, young players with projection such as Ivica Zubac and Landry Shamet, together with many draft rounds. With this movements they show their clear intentions of not competing in the immediate, but to develop talent and hit the next market.

On the Knicks side the play was similar, although the stake was higher considering the transfer of the Latvian “unicorn” Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The transfer also included Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee, who abandoned the “big apple” to make space for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round draft picks.

The last great Davis’ pretenders were the Boston Celtics. Given the impossibility to get Davis without losing Irving during this market, they promised the Pelicans a killing mega-offer if they decided to wait for them. Danny Ainge keeps up his hopes even though Davis’ father stated that he wouldn’t like his son to arrive to the franchise of the clover.

The Philadelphia 76ers moved under the radar, taking advantage from all the lights set on Davis and his future, and managed to make many transfers that put them as the great winners of the market. The 76ers acquired Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, Malachi Richardson, Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis.

Another team from the Eastern Conference that got reinforced greatly were the Toronto Raptors. Marc Gasol lands in Canada in exchange of Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles (who arrive at Memphis Grizzlies) and a second-round draft pick.

The top pick of 2017 Draft, Markelle Fultz, will have the chance to relaunch his career playing for the Orlando Magic, a team with no big pressures but with the need of a high-category PG.

The weirdest situation throughout this transfer period was the struggle for Harrison Barnes. The PF got to know about his transfer while he was playing with the Mavericks against the Hornets. Even LeBron James talked about the situation on his social networks, criticizing the treatment received by the players. Barnes goes to Sacramento Kings in exchange of Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson.

In short, the market closed after 8 days of many rumors and 57 players that changed teams (Nick Staukas and Wade Baldwin changed teams 4 times). Now it’s time for free agents to find the way into a team, to face the final stretch towards the NBA playoffs. I love this game.

 All the transfers:

Markelle Fultz to Orlando

Orlando receives: Markelle Fultz.

Philadelphia receives: Jonathon Simmons, a protected first-round pick from Cleveland, and a second-round from Cleveland.

Greg Monroe to Brooklyn

Brooklyn receives: Greg Monroe and a second-round draft pick.

Toronto receives: money.

Jabari Bird to Atlanta

Atlanta receives: Jabari Bird.

Boston receives: money.

Shelvin Mack to Atlanta

Atlanta receives: Shelvin Mack.

Memphis receives: Tyler Dorsey.

Mike Muscala to L.A. Lakers

L.A. Lakers receives: Mike Muscala.

L.A. Clippers receives: Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley.

Skal Labissiere to Portland

Portland receives: Skal Labissiere.

Sacramento receives: Caleb Swanigan.

Marc Gasol to Toronto

Toronto receives: Marc Gasol.

Memphis receives: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a second-round pick of 2024.

Avery Bradley to Memphis

Memphis receives: Avery Bradley.

L.A. Clippers receives: JaMychal Green and Garret Temple.

Nik Stauskas to Indiana

Indiana receives: Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin.

Houston receives: money.

Nikola Mirotic to Milwaukee

Milwaukee receives: Nikola Mirotic.

New Orleans receives: Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second-round picks of 2019, 2020 (2) and 2021.

James Ennis to Philadelphia

Philadelphia receives: James Ennis.

Houston receives: right to trade the second-round picks of 2021.

Harrison Barnes to Sacramento

Sacramento receives: Harrison Barnes.

Dallas receives: Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson.

Markieff Morris to New Orleans

New Orleans receives: Markieff Morris and a second-round pick of 2023.

Washington receives: Wesley Johnson.

 Iman Shumpert to Houston

Houston receives: Iman Shumpert, Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin and a second-round pick of 2021.

Sacramento receives: Alec Burks and a second-round draft pick of 2020.

Cleveland receives: Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, a protected first-round and a second-round pick of 2019.

Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago

Chicago receives: Otto Porter Jr.

Washington receives: Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a second-round pick of 2023.

 Tyler Johnson to Phoenix

Phoenix receives: Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington.

Miami receives: Ryan Anderson.

Malachi Richardson to Philadelphia

Philadelphia receives: Malachi Richardson, a second-round pick of 2022 and the rights over Emir Preldzic.

Toronto receives: money.

Thon Maker to Detroit

Detroit receives: Thon Maker.

Milwaukee receives: Stanley Johnson.

Tobias Harris to Philadelphia

Philadelphia receives: Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.

L.A. Clippers receives: Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, a protected first-round pick of 2020, first-round pick of 2021 and two second-round picks of 2021 and 2023.

 Reggie Bullock to L.A. Lakers

L.A. Lakers receives: Reggie Bullock.

Detroit receives: Svi Mykhailiuk and a second-round pick.

Rodney Hood to Portland

Portland receives: Rodney Hood.

Cleveland receives: Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin and two second-round picks of 2021 and 2023.

Luwawu-Cabarrot to Chicago

Chicago receives: Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and money.

Oklahoma City receives: protected second-round pick of 2020.

Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas Mavericks

Dallas receives: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee.

New York receives: Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks.

Juan Manuel Ferrera.

Translation by: Julián Luppi

Matías Zaldivar: “In football you are always defending the food of your family”

The world of football is much wider than it looks. The flashes and the media coverage many times get satisfied with only reaching the surface. But an infinite universe like football feeds off thousands of stories and lives such as Matias Alejandro Zaldivar’s. Born in Villa Porá, a humble settlement of Lanus, Argentina, 22 years ago, he was put aside from his club, Arsenal de Sarandí, after going through all youth leagues and making it to First Division, with 8 appearances between 2014 and 2017. Suddenly, an unexpected opportunity reopened the doors of a world that can be as fantastic as cruel.

Saldivar in a match against Los Ángeles Galaxy

Where are you playing currently?

-I’m playing for Rio Grande Valley Toros, of the US Second Division football (USL Championship).

How did you get to Toros?

-My manager got me a trial on February 2018. I went there, and I was lucky to succeed.

After the trial, did you go back to Argentina?

-No. After the trial I stayed in the US making all the paperwork to be in order, and I started to train and play with the team immediately.

How did you tell your family that you were staying at the US?

-They knew that I was coming for the trial, and that if everything went well I would stay. When the club confirmed that they wanted to count with me, I called home to tell my family, and they were all glad to hear the news.

Who was the first person you talked to?

-The first one I called was my girlfriend. I told her they had picked me to stay at the club, and then we made a video call with all my family. They were all very happy and everyone congratulated me, it’s a beautiful memory.

Until the American adventure, Matías had lived his whole life in Villa Porá with his father, his mother, his two brothers and his sister. In 2015, his girlfriend moved to Zaldivar family’s house in order to live together with his husband, and two years later they became parents of Liam. Before his son’s first birthday, Matías had to leave Argentina.

What is like to be far from your son?

-Actually, it’s quite difficult. And it gets tougher every day. I miss him very much, such as I miss my family and friends. But it’s a sacrifice I have to make.

Do you talk to Liam?

-Yes, we make video calls every day. Before the matches I always call him so he gives me a little more strength. All what I’m doing, I do it for him.

These are the most difficult things of your profession?

-People believe that being a football player is easy, that everything is fun, but the truth is that they know nothing about what an athlete has to go through to reach this level and stay at it. It’s a very big sacrifice.

Is it possible to enjoy playing football while being a professional?

-It never stops being a job. The whole time you’re defending your job, the food of your family. And it’s not only about your own work, it’s also about your teammates, the coaches and all the people that work at the club. Professional football is a job at every time.

A “villa” in the suburbs of Buenos Aires has very little in common with a city in the south of Texas as McAllen. Maybe the only point of contact between these places is the protagonist of this story. Adapting is a capacity of survivors. The distance with his loved ones, in addition to an unknown environment, can be a dangerous cocktail for someone that’s not prepared.

How’s your daily routine?

-Well, normally we train in the afternoon. In the morning I go to the gym for a while, I drink “mate”, watch TV and then I go training.

How do you get along with the language and with your daily necessities?

-Luckily, I became friend with a Colombian guy that has been living here for many years. He has a car so when we need something we go to the supermarket together. He also helps me with the language. He helps me with everything… Anyway, I’m learning English, at least the basics, and I’m eager to continue learning.

How’s the city and its people?

-McAllen is very nice, very peaceful. People are respectful and calm as well.

Do they recognize you in the streets?

-Here in McAllen players from Toros are well-known. Anyway, they aren’t as passionate as the Argentinean fans. They stop me, greet me, but always with a lot of respect.

What other differences do you note with Argentina?

-Here everything is always clean, very calm and organized. Weekends go by and nothing extraordinary happens, everything remains quiet, always.

Do you imagine yourself playing for the Argentinean National Team someday?

-Football has plenty of ups and downs, and you never know what might happen. Today you are here and tomorrow in a bigger club, with other level, other exposure. I don’t think about it, but if any player says that he doesn’t think about playing for his country, he lies…

Juan Manuel Ferrera.

Translation by: Julián Luppi

Zaldivar, when playing for Arsenal de Sarandí (Arg.)

 

Rocío Pereyra: “Qualifying to the World Cup gave me strength to keep fighting”

She sells raffle tickets in order to pay the expenses and fulfill one of the dreams of her life. Just before participating at the World Taekwondo Championship in Inzell, Germany, she demonstrates that in this sport, the biggest pains don’t come from the strikes of the rivals.

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How did you get to practice Taekwondo?

I was 9 years old when I started at the “Sociedad de Fomento Andrés Rolón”, a small club from my neighborhood, located two blocks from my house, and that is my second home. My friends even say that I spend more time there than where I live! My twin sister, Belén, went there to try one class, and came back so happy that made me curious about it, especially because it was a pretty much unknown sport.

The category that you represent is amateur in your country (Argentina). In which other countries occurs the same?

Exactly! The ITF, the category in which I compete, is totally amateur in Argentina. We aren’t recognized by any sport department or institution. We are almost nothing. It’s hard to say it this way, but it’s the truth. Not only we receive no economic support, but there’s even no kind of visibility of this sport or martial art, that is so important for us who practice it and, undoubtedly, for the society.

Many European countries support our discipline, and that’s reflected on the quality of the athletes. Our country also has exceptional representatives, but the difference in terms of lifestyle is clear. They are completely dedicated to this martial art, while we have to make many more sacrifices. And the same happens in the rest of Latin America.

Two Taekwondo Federations coexist. What are the main differences between them, and what is the status of each?

Yes, there’s the ITF, which I represent, and the WTF, which is recognized as a sport by the Argentinean National Secretary of Sports. Some elite athletes from the WTF receive subsidy from the State. They are much more supported than us, because ITF is not recognized as a sport, and that’s why we get no backup, even though in Argentina there are more ITF than WTF representatives, but for political reasons it’s hard to achieve unity.

Those who compete on ITF can do so on WTF or the other way around?

No, unless he/she practices and is registered on both. But that never happens because, although everything is Taekwondo, rules are different. ITF allows punches that WTF doesn’t. For instance, we use gloves to strike and it’s allowed to punch in the chest and face. That’s forbidden by WTF.

How does it make you feel having no support from the State?

Many sensations, in fact. From the time my story began to spread thanks to the media, I haven’t stopped thinking the way to make our beloved taekwondo more popular.

Why do you think this particular sport should count with more support?

In the first place, because it’s a completely noble and healthy sport, excellent for the development at different levels, from physical to cognitive, affective and social, and that delivers great values, as every martial art does.

How do you feel about competing at the World Cup in Germany, and how are you preparing yourself?

Having qualified is already part of a fulfilled dream. Never before I presented myself to a “selective”, a tournament at which you get to compete with other Argentinean girls from the same category, and only the best are ranked. I qualified and that was amazing and gave me strength to keep fighting, on every sense. To me, getting to compete at the World Cup means that everything is achievable.

How are you getting ready for this big challenge?

My training changed a lot since I qualified. From December to the date I’m training almost every day double shift, with the corresponding breaks. Now in January, training is physical. I also train Taekwondo, but it’s mainly physical, also considering that we are on the vacation period and therefore I’m not giving classes. There are days on which my body is exhausted, but my mind and my dreams are greater. On February and March, training is much more technical and tactical in terms of strategies for the fight.

How do you manage to pay for the expenses of your participation on the World Cup without the help of any organism?

When I got the classification, I found myself into many expenses. The World Cup is on April in Germany, and that means an important cost of travelling, lodging with the other delegations, the inscriptions, etc. There are also other invisible expenses, such as clothing and equipment for the head, feet and hands. Those things need constant renewal, moreover when you train so many hours a day. The truth is that everything sums, and the expenses are huge. So, in order to raise money, my coach and I had the idea to sell raffle tickets at a cost of AR$ 100, with totally symbolic prices. This is helping me a lot to fulfill my great dream.

Releasing raffle tickets to pay for the expenses in order to have the chance to participate of such an important sport event should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities. What do you think should change? What is people’s reaction?

As I said before, aside from my dream of participating in the World Cup, my biggest dream is to make ITF Taekwondo more visible and popular, given the great benefits that it brings. Anyone who listens to me would think that I say this because I practice it, but no, I can assure that any person who knows someone that practices will think the same way. With all the visibility that my case is having, I’d love that the authorities could rethink the role that this martial art occupies in the society, and the benefits that it could bring if we get more recognition. We not only have top-level representatives in Argentina, but also many instructors on every province willing to offer their knowledge in different entities, showing all the benefits that our martial art brings within.

Regrettably, in sports it’s common to show the face of the success and the profits that many athletes receive, leaving aside those who practice pushed by the love to the discipline, and that fight day by day against the adversities. How does that impact on you?

Look, I like very much every sport. You put me to practice any of them and I do so. I like football, both watching and playing it. But football, such as other sports, is too overrated, and receives enormous support from the authorities. To see the massive, excessive support makes me think that it’d be nice that at least a part of those benefits were perceived by other sports that are not as visible as football. That would cause huge impact, mainly to us who dedicate our lives to this, both in terms of competition and education.

When did you start teaching Taekwondo?

I started very young, when I was 16. At the club where I practiced there was a girl teaching a small group of 4 children. She got pregnant and couldn’t continue. With a friend, Evelyn, we decided to replace her and we never stopped since. Today we feel proud of having a beautiful school, named TKD San Isidro. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram. We give classes to people of all ages, from 4-year-old kids to adults.

What future goals do you plan for your discipline?

In the long-term, I aim to transmit my experience and knowledge to my students. I have many young students wearing black belt that want to start giving lessons, and to me that’s wonderful. The idea of leaving a legacy and making the school grow to make Taekwondo more popular would be the best. Talking about my personal goals and the competition, well, keep training and competing until my body says “stop!”. This is a beautiful passion, and I believe that with passion everything is possible.

How did this sport help you throughout your life?

It’s not just a sport, but a martial art that brings values for life. It taught me a lot: self-confidence, commitment, respect. Here, from the moment that you start to practice there are five principles that you keep always in mind, and that you inevitably reflect on life: courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit.

I imagine that the people around you play a fundamental role. What can you say about them?

They are fundamental, indeed. My family supports me on everything, no matter what happens. Sometimes I’m back late from training, and they are there waiting for me with food and asking me how was my day. Then I have my two best friends, Eve and Fiamma, partners of Taekwondo and life, who back me up on every circumstance. And also my coach, Fede Monzón, that no matter day or time, he’s there for me unconditionally, to help me train until exhaustion and motivate me when everything becomes more difficult.

Would you send a message to the authorities that have the chance of changing the situation?

I’d love that they could reconsider the value that they give to sport. It’s something so important, beautiful and fully shapes the lives of people. Also, that new non-conventional disciplines could be opened, which will surely brake their schemes and exceed their expectations.

For those who want to help you with the raffle tickets, what should they do?

The selling started on January and will most probably continue until mid-February, when we are going to make the raffle, live through my personal Instagram account. As I said before, it only costs $100, and if anyone is interested, send a private message to my Facebook account: Ro Pereyra, and then we arrange for the delivery. That is one of the ways, but I don’t want to stop mentioning that my profession and my breadwinner are the classes that I give to people of all ages. Everyone is welcome, and will be received with open arms!

Agustín Palmisciano

Translation by: Julián Luppi

Gonzalo Abdala: “In Argentina, only 10% of the players make a living out of futsal”

“El Magia” (“The Magic”), only Argentinean player in this discipline to win the Copa Libertadores and the Copa América with his national team, tells us from Italy what is like to play this sport, and the main differences between Italian futsal and Argentinean futsal. Humility, professionalism and eagerness to get better day by day are the goals for him who defended the jerseys of Boca Juniors, San Lorenzo, Cerro Porteño, Luparense and currently Real Rieti.

How did you get to play futsal?

I started playing 11-a-side football for Huracan. There I had some mates that also played futsal, and they invited me to go. One day I decided to go and I liked it, so I started to play regularly.

In futsal, are tactics and strategies more important than the personal skills of each player?

The most important thing is to stay focused all the time. It’s a very dynamic and tactical sport, where you have to keep your attention on every detail, because one single play can change everything.

In your opinion, could a top player from the Argentinean futsal league play at the Argentinean “Superliga” of football?

Yes, I believe that some futsal players are enough qualified to play at the first division of football. Many of us started as 11-a-side football players, and then changed to futsal.

Did you expect to jump to one of the most important teams in Italy?

To be honest, it was a dream. Arriving to one of the most important leagues such as the Italian, and to a team like Luparense is something beautiful.

What are the main differences between the Argentinean league and the European leagues?

Here in Italy the game is much more physical and also more professional. 85% of Serie A players do this for a living. In Argentina that doesn’t happen. Only 10% of the players do so. Besides, in Europe there are many sponsors that move great amounts of money, which is important for a sport that isn’t professional.

Despite the great time you are going through, do you miss your hometown?

I always do, no doubts. Even though I feel great here, doing what I love for a living, my hometown is always present. I miss my family and friends a lot.

What do you feel about being the only Argentinean player to win the Copa Libertadores and the Copa América?

Being the first to achieve those trophies is something that makes me proud. The Libertadores first, with Cerro Porteño, and then the Copa América with the National Team. I’d love that an Argentinean team win the Libertadores.

Who have marked your career in futsal?

I had very talented coaches that helped me improve in several aspects. They have great merit on making me a good futsal player, and not just another one. Among them, I highlight Juan Llorens, who taught me the principles of the sport, together with Diego Giustozzi. When Diego talks to you, he makes you believe that you are the best player of the world, always getting the best of you.

Do you think that the good level that futsal players are showing in Argentina is being supported by the institutionality of AFA?

Yes, lately AFA has started to show more interest in futsal, improving and spreading the sport. The growth of futsal came together with great moments, such as the World Cup won by Argentina in 2016.

What should change for futsal to achieve a more protagonic role in our sport, such as it does in other countries?

What I see different from other places is lack of advertising. The sport is not known by most of the people, even though there are many boys playing futsal. It’s a beautiful sport, and I think that with a good marketing campaign it should gain popularity rapidly.

Our national Team can compete head to head against other teams that receive more support?

Yes, and that was demonstrated at the World Cup. Argentina has many high-quality players. Giustozzi always says that we have the competitive DNA, that we use every existing resources to win, and that we have them.

What are your expectations for the future of your career?

Playing the World Cup is still one of my dreams. I almost played the last two Cups, but I couldn’t make it. Third time lucky, I hope. Besides, I want to keep growing and winning titles.

Did futsal broadcasting in Argentina make more children approach the sport?

Today children choose to play futsal, in the past that didn’t happen. They went directly to play 11-a-side football, such as I did. But today there’s more visibility and they pick futsal first.

Who would be on your ideal futsal team of the world?

Well, I will choose players that I had as mates. I had many and very talented, but if I had to choose only 5, I would pick Nicolás Sarmiento, Damián Stazzone, Honorio, Merín and Alamiro Vaporaki.

Agustín Palmisciano.

Translation by: Julián Luppi.

Football and its changes

In today’s world and with globalization, changes of great magnitude occurred in terms of political, economic and social aspects. For instance, thanks to instant messaging we believe that distances shorten, but in football seems that the opposite is going on.

Lately, it’s easy to see how a concentration of power got established within a few European teams, which led to a drop in the competitiveness of local leagues given the disparity of resources. Also, as happened in China or USA, the promotion of this sport to get followers and prestige is made through great quantities of money to capture elite players. In this context, in those leagues that don’t count with these factors, like the Argentinean, clubs are pushed to sell their stars early, sometimes even before they get to debut on First Division.

With the mentioned concentration of power, it seems very unlikely to watch again Club World Cup finals such as Argentinos Juniors vs. Juventus or Boca Juniors vs. Real Madrid, with great parity between “poor” South-American teams and “rich” European teams.

Agustin Palmisciano.

Translation by: Julián Luppi