“With confidence, the goal is smaller for the rival”

Laura MartaLaura Marta

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Despite the test every night, the impossibility of having a coffee in the street or going out to relax with some excursion to the pyramids and the consequent boredom in the hotel, the Spanish handball team he wants to stay many more days in Egypt. Until the end of a competition in which they are already close to the medals. Qualified for the quarterfinals after beating Germany and Uruguay, and with the victory of Hungary over Poland, today they face the Magyars to decide who reaches the knockout rounds as first or second. That position that will settle the crossroads in which Norway and France hope. But Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas (Toledo, 1991, 1.90 meters) does not want to know anything about calculators or play with the scoreboard. He prefers to do his best job. And in this tournament, that best possible has been one lesson in confidence under the bar after another.

«The most important thing is that we are classified, we can play with more freedom and joy. Then there is no more math, there are crosses and eliminations. You cannot afford to fail. We will play knowing the pass, but it is not our philosophy to play with the scoreboard. It can be dangerous and we would be wrong. In addition, we have shown that the group knows how to perform in the worst moments. The worse things have gotten, the better he has behaved. And we want more, “he concedes to ABC before leaving for training. After a hesitant start, the team has re-established its confidence around the collective group, but also in the hands of the goalkeepers. Imperials both Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas as Rodrigo Corrales. Stop, they say, helps to stop. Yes, of course, this is a snowball. Just as scoring goals helps you shoot with more confidence. Rodrigo and I feel important in the team, we know that the team needs us, Jordi Ribera He has given us that confidence and we are in the sweetest moment of the life of a goalkeeper, in the thirties ”, he explains.

That confidence does not exempt you from having nerves before starting each game. Some good nerves, underlines the Toledo, but they go away after 30 or 40 seconds. «I think that mentally it is the step that we have advanced the most. The physique is on the decline a bit, but my head and psychology have made me able to be calm, concentrated and with total confidence ». He doesn’t even feel the balls on his skin when they hit him, he says. And they can reach 90 kilometers per hour. “Unless I hit you in the face or arms, if I’m telling you the truth, we don’t have the feeling of the ball. They don’t stay on my skin or on my head ». That that they do not stay in his head is the ability of the experienced goalkeepers in not regretting a goal conceded more than necessary. “It is a position in which you are always exposed, and you have a great burden of responsibility, but we know that in a game there are 40-50 shots and you cannot stay on the goal that they score because another comes right away. You know that a mistake of yours does not condition the total result. But you do have to learn to get over it fast because you can make five stops in a row afterward. That also comes from experience, because when you are young you do regret more or think about them many more times, and over time you learn to put mistakes aside.

Grow in confidence

With age, of course, he has gotten better, and he continues to learn, although in handball, he admits, it is difficult for a goalkeeper to change many things. «You can do something different, but the essence is always there. Just as pitchers can learn more patterns to act or have more resources when shooting a seven meter, goalkeepers always depend on the opponent. The only thing you can do is grow in confidence to make the goal smaller for yourself and for your opponents.

Like the doormen, the Spanish selection he also doesn’t have much leeway in terms of style of play. However, they have been successful in all tournaments for more than a decade. Hence, anything that does not sound like medals can sometimes lead to the word failure. A pressure that Perez de Vargas assumes with responsibility and pride. «People are waiting for us. In Spain and abroad they know that, without having the best squad, we are going to wage war wherever we go. It is a good feeling, knowing that our country can count on us. Demanding ourselves to win is good because it is the result of previous work and everyone’s commitment. Many of those who are in the national team could have left the dressing room a long time ago, but they are still here, where we are a team that lives and has fun together. That’s an advantage: it helps to find the automatisms, and a good relationship also influences the track.

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