The Cordovan coach led the Andalusian men’s cadet team to the top of the podium in the Spanish Championship in Huelva. Rafa Sanz tells us about his experience from the bench in a tournament of great intensity and demand.
At 45 he has accumulated 11 seasons as head coach in LEB Gold and four more in Silver. In recent weeks he has directed the Andalusian men’s cadet team, with which he has achieved the title of champion of Spain at the Andrés Estrada Pavilion in Huelva. “It has been a feat. I don’t think anyone would have said that we could aspire to be on the podium at the beginning of the tournament, but two factors have come together: the perseverance of the players and the courage with which the team has played ” assures Rafa Sanz.
Andalusia got gold ahead of the Canary Islands (silver) and Madrid (bronze). Rafa Sanz’s men beat Madrid in a great semifinal and, a few hours later, defeated the best Canarian generation (Spanish champions in Mini and Infantil). For Sanz the key has been “The ability to get up from the blows, whether they be injuries or mistakes on the court. They have had a fantastic capacity for improvement and they have never given up. “
In addition, they have achieved it with a team with many first-year cadets and with players who could not go to Huelva. Sanz does not put it as an excuse (important players were also missing in other teams) and affirms that “There were those who were, and we have not regretted the absences. And those who have been have put all the passion, enhancing our virtues to achieve maximum performance. The players have made it very easy for us, with their ability to listen, with a brutal delivery, with perseverance … “
A successful teamwork with some big names who will be talking about for years to come. Rafa Sanz adds that “There are many high-level players in Andalusia, with the clubs doing a good job in training. We can highlight Mario Saint-Supery, Gonzalo Fernández or Miracle Bamadou, who have a good projection, but we have a high level in that middle class who can play perfectly in the senior category and who can even stand out later. ” What is clear is that “the credit goes to the clubs and the youth coaches.”
To enhance this training, the Cordovan coach saw the celebration of this Spanish Championship as essential, despite the difficulties: “The kids are lacking in competitive experiences. And this tournament has served them for their technical training, but also for their motivation. They are experiences for life. To realize the importance of sacrifices, the price that must be paid … it is a fantastic learning bank, especially emotionally, learning to manage emotions. “
Sanz repeatedly repeats the problem of premature abandonment. “In the transition from cadet to junior, and from junior to senior, a lot of players are lost. There is a middle class that leaves due to lack of prospects, and we lose some very good players who can make a career from less to more in the senior category. I try to convey the illusion for basketball not only to the players who stand out the most, but to everyone on the team. “
An elite coach like Cordovan ensures that “I try to give the kids the simplicity of the game. In the easy is the essence. And in professional basketball you discover where the essence, the root of basketball is… which then makes your training work easier. Ultimately it’s about technical and mental ability and making the right decisions. “
On the contrary, he adds that “Training basketball gives me a lot. I am passionate about it and it has been my great vocation. And when you have that illusion, half the job is done. I have to thank the Andalusian Federation for its trust because I am very satisfied with this experience. I have enjoyed the journey, the preparation, the work with the technical team, which has been of the highest level, the experiences. It has been a very intense, demanding championship … almost like half a Regular League season “. A coach passionate about training who wants to continue training and who has been one of the protagonists of the Spanish Championship held in Huelva.