Sarmiento: «I would like to teach handball and, if possible, in my land»
It seemed so, but no.
Danny Sarmientowho sits down to talk about the past, present and future on the same day that he turns 39 with CANARIAS7, will continue to play for at least a few more months at Wislaw Plock in Poland. Legendary career and track record both at club level, integrating part of a Barcelona in which he won everything, as well as national teams, protagonist of a generation that championed the world and also shone at the Olympic level, the announcement of his retirement , at the beginning of July, is now refuted by an offer that came to him to continue on the courts. He has signed until December and his intention is not to go further. But his devotion to handball and that competitive vein that forms the backbone of his life does not lead him to enter into calculations either.
. He lives today as if there were no tomorrow no matter how much he assumes that his cycle as a professional player has entered the epilogue.
-The retreat has lasted four days…
I made the decision as a family. I had offers to continue playing in Romania, Macedonia, Qatar or Dubai… But I’m already settled in France and it wasn’t worth it for me, because of the children’s school, to move from there. That’s why I announced that I was quitting. But this came up, which was at the last minute. They called me, they insisted on a proposal until December. I had my mind on other things, but the bug is still there and I accepted-
-And if you are tempted to continue in 2023?
-I concentrate on these months that I will be there and then return to what I had in mind.
-What happened to you when you announced that you were ending your career after more than two decades at the highest level?
-A number of friends and people who called me. Former colleagues from different countries, friendships I made along the way.
-Titles, Olympic medals, podiums and honors. Do you keep those friendships as the best legacy of your career?
-Obviously, the titles, emotions and experiences that I have accumulated will remain with me forever. But sport happens and what I’m left with is having met wonderful people, friends from many places that you call them and they are there. I value everything, but friends, people, are always above.
-It is in front of the former Bishop Frías pavilion, today Félix Santana. All started here.
-Escaleritas marked my childhood because I spent a lot of time here. My school, San Miguel Arcángel, was in this neighborhood. There the gym teacher got us interested in handball. And I walked all these streets. Eliseo Ojeda, López Socas, Bishop Frías. And the memories come by themselves. I remember coming with my brother Ayoze to watch the games or training sessions of Juventud Las Palmas…
-If then they tell him what was on the way…
-At that time my perception of handball was as a sport that I liked, that I had a great time. I didn’t even think about elite handball. That came later. When I started watching Juventud Las Palmas or Cadagua Gáldar compete, I was hooked and that motivated me to continue.
Did you have idols?
-I watched a lot of handball here and on TV. It was the time of the Barça Dream Team, with Valero Rivera as coach and who won the five European Cups in a row, Masip, Garralda… Players with whom I was lucky enough to play with them and against them and get to know them. But I liked to look at local players like De la Hoz or Carvajal, who had started like us and were at the top. Then, being able to share experiences with them was something very enriching.
-Which person was the one that ended up influencing you so that you ended up being what you have been?
-My brother Ayoze was the one who got handball into my blood because he already played before me. And when Gáldar signed him, he said that I had to go with him. My uncle André came to play for Canteras and is another important influence for me because he was the one who guided my brother. I don’t forget how lucky I was, when I started, to find people like El Charro, who was an educator more than a coach, Berti in Gáldar, Aday, Ben Modo… People who made you see that you could reach high in handball based on work. And, of course, Jordi Ribera, who was the one who made me debut in the first team and marks my step from being an amateur or a professional. He was the one who suggested to me that if I want to make a living from sport, I should have a discipline that forced me to dedicate myself exclusively. Travel, training…
-Ribera two decades ago and Ribera until the other day with the Spanish team. The capital figure of his career?
I have a great relationship with him. He is a handball nut, a scholar. And I am heartily glad of this stage of so many successes that he is having. Because it was incredible what he did in Gáldar, Ademar de León and in countries like Brazil or Argentina and with few means. And his work with Spain is not only in the absolute, but at a training level as well.
-Ribera gave him a ball at Gáldar and, from there, at Almería to begin to forge his unrepeatable future.
-I arrived in Almería by rebound. He had a contract with Gáldar but, due to Gáldar’s financial problems, Almería bought the place. I didn’t want to go and they convince me. In the end, I spent four years there, which were very important for me because I was a very young player and I was able to get a lot of minutes. Then I went to Ademar de León, a very big change. He played Champions League. Maximum level. And then Barca. A gigantic institution and, in handball, the best team in the world.
-Summarizing your Barça cycle refers to a mountain of titles. Do you really savor each achievement when, in your case and in the case of Barcelona where you were, winning was the everyday thing?
-You savor it for a couple of days because it has cost work and pressure. But then you have to think about what comes next. The greatness of Barcelona is to win, win and win. And then win and try to win again. Compete, compete and compete.
-With what title do you keep of the more than twenty that you raised in the Palau?
-The first Champions League was quite important because we came from the previous year of having lost it. In Colonia, and against Ciudad Real, which was one of the best teams at the time, and we were able to play a brilliant game and win. It was a great release. And with the Spanish team, the World Cup that we played at home and that we won was incredible, spectacular. With the people overturned…
-That motivation to continue when the showcase is already full is carried from the cradle, one is educated, it is acquired over the years…?
-I love to compete but I have lost more than I have won. More finals lost than won. When you win and when you lose, you savor it with great intensity, although it is preferable, of course, to win. But it is life, sport. I have been lucky enough to win very important things, although it is clear to me that you learn more from defeat than when you win.
He fulfilled his dreams as a child. Does he consider himself privileged now that he looks back from the vantage point of having the retreat lined up?
-I have been lucky enough to dedicate myself to my passion, to live moments that I never imagined, to fulfill my dreams. Always well accompanied by my family, my wife and my children.
– Mention the family. In her parents’ house in Las Torres they jealously guard clippings and all kinds of memorabilia from his career. Did you have time to preserve heirlooms for your children to see?
-Yes. Everything I have I have given to my father. Jerseys of all clubs, finals, medals… There is a lot of effort behind it, a lot of sacrifice.
-Now parenthesis in Poland and then… Will you train?
-I am in the process of getting the title of coach. I want to continue training. I would like to continue to be linked to handball and work with young people. And I would like to teach handball in my land, here, although I know that the subject is complicated. At the moment they haven’t called me and let’s see if it can be possible in the future. In France they already raised the option of training for me, but it did not materialize. There is another story, it works from below, all clubs must have a training center, a percentage of the budget must go to club infrastructure. The model they have there is a mirror.
-Because, Rocasa aside, from the handball that you knew to the one that exists now in the Canary Islands, only the ashes remain…
-When I played here we had Cadagua Gáldar, Juventud Las Palmas, Tres de Mayo… Clubs in the Second Division, in the First Division, which created enthusiasm in the children because they saw that they could make the leap. Of course, I have been training these days in Gáldar, I get along very well with Aday, whom I have known for many years, and they are doing an incredible job. They have taken a quarry forward, competing in the First National with players trained in Gáldar, without many means… I congratulate them because I have seen that they are doing things very well there. They have the town overturned. The economy needs to accompany it, because without economic means it is impossible for a project to grow.
– What advice do you give to children who are now in sports and who dream of reaching it?
-First of all, enjoy the sport. That they do not see it as an option to dedicate their life because, in this phase of life, the essential thing is to study, train, prepare for the future. It is compatible to study and practice sport. My advice is to live day by day.
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