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    32-crown “grumpy” coach in showcase

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    Entrenador “resabioso” de 32 coronas en vitrina


    It is not envisioned, at least in the coming decades, that a Cuban coach could show 32 national crowns, as a result of 18 titles in the youth category and 14 in the senior category. Those are the ones that he already has in Eliberto Sarduy Rivero's showcase. And although the journalist wanted to be measured, he does not resist speculating: Is it possible that someone surpasses him in this century?

    Not even Sarduy, at the time of the dialogue, was aware of the tremendous feat that he has starred in at the head of the field hockey teams in the province, but he does not think much about it to affirm that the two titles that will always be present in his mind, they are the first with the youth team in 1986 and the last one achieved with the senior squad in 2020.

    “That first one was a great injection that I received to try to see that other similar moments came. I say that if a success does not drive you, then it has not been a success. It was something unique to know that the team was the best in the country, to which was added that we knew that we were in a position to aspire to more titles”.

    —And if you have to mention a "special defeat”...

    —It still hurts that of 2017 in the youth category and it is that the chains of consecutive titles were broken at that time because since 1989 we did not lose first place. But I felt it more because although in other years the team was not the great favorite, this time we managed to form a tremendous “band”, with even two players who were active in the national team, but something that has always been our flag failed us: collectivism.

    —I have been told that your complaints were many due to the few incentives that your players received from the sports authorities of the territory in those first crowns...

     —It's true, and I complained a lot that athletes who had given glory to the territory were not recognized, as they deserved. But I tell you something, I think that, in the sporting aspect, helped us. This sport in Ciego de Ávila was, and is, very humble and the boys go out to win because of their competitive honor. We never talk about "they will give you this or that". I have seen during all these years how in other sports the stimuli sometimes became reasons for disunity within the teams.

    “But I will continue demanding that hockey be given what it deserves, although I must confess that in recent years we have been taken more into account. Some get angry when I say that it is logical that it should be so, because we have earned it. I don't mind being accused of being immodest. I would feel guilty if I did not defend all of us who have dedicated our lives to this sport. I always make it clear that titles do not fall from the sky. You have to leave a lot of sweat in training”.

    __"Is that why you have a reputation as an 'old fighter'?"

    —At first I was upset when I knew that some people thought that way, but then I realized that this little sign had been coming since I started in this and I was quite young. Coaches such as the late Roberto Castañeda of cycling, Omar García, Rogelio del Sol of basketball and many others, they told us that we were "crossed" for saying the things that put work to our work.

    “As long as I am linked to sport, I will be like that. I do not work so that they think badly or well of me. I do it because I like this profession and I will not stop saying, what I have to say, in front of the "most pinto of the dove".

    —Well, if it comes down to it, make me an ideal field hockey team of all time...

    __"I leave that to other people." I cannot "get into the heat" by telling you that possible dream team because several players who left their souls in the field for many years could be left out. What I do have in this "booklet", in which I have kept my notes for a few years, the names of the 25 players who should not be absent when talking about hockey in Ciego de Ávila. (See attached Word).

    —In the game scheme that you like to present, does it emphasize attack or defense?

    —It is clear that without a balance between the two lines little can be done, but in our case we have been “lucky” to almost always have a middle line that knows what to do in attack and defense. I tell you, for example, that in Manuel Marín's time as a midfield player, it was almost always ours. And when one has the center under control, everything becomes easy, both to go back and to attack.

    —Some believe that you “push” your athletes too much by always demanding that if they do not obtain the title, you classify the result as “bad”, even when they have deserved the silver medal…

    —The first thing I'm going to tell you is that when the boys arrive at the academy from the EIDE, we tell them in welcome that they don't come here to make “groups”, that those who are in either of the two teams, youth or older, they have to keep in mind the mentality of champions. Here you win or win na.How am I going to say when they tell me about predictions that we aspire to discuss the title? If I say that, I am assuming that the rival has a chance of winning. And that they call me self-sufficient. But I repeat, I train my boys to win. If that is "I will believe things", then I believe things.

    At the almost good-bye to the dialogue, I asked him for an opinion about his son Heriberto Sarduy Gómez, one of the best forwards in Cuban hockey of all time the most natural Cuban scorer I have ever seen on a game”.

    And then the "squeak-squeak" of the conversation was my promise of an upcoming interview with Yuyo.