Rocío was part of the team that achieved the historic third place in the U19 in Thailand 12 years ago, and now she will live another appointment but from another side: she will be Sebastián Silva’s assistant.
She has a low profile that has characterized her forever and that is why she approaches the talk with a certain shyness. He is not self-referential and he does not believe he is more than anyone else, he just enjoys this experience, learns in each training session and contributes his share of wisdom. It goes beyond what he can contribute from his role on the bench, but also includes what he can give from his years in basketball, his knowledge of this litter and even from the camaraderie, being a nexus between the players and the rest of the CT.
Is what lives today Rocio Perez, Sebastián Silva’s assistant in the U19 National Team that is preparing for the World Cup in Hungary (from August 7 to 15). It is not a minor fact that Rocío was part of that remembered team that won the bronze medal at the U19 World Cup in Thailand in 2009. In that litter she was a companion of recognized players such as Burani, Boquete, Maqui Rosset (she did not play the tournament for injury in the previous tour, but it was part of the whole process), Nacha Pérez, Santana, Pepo González, Durso, among others. That team managed to transcend time by achievements and capacity, and has become the base of the National Team ever since.
Today, 12 years later, Rocío will return to a youth World Cup but from another side. Not as a player, but as a coach. With more experience, but with the same enthusiasm and expectation. And also knowing that it is another link in their professional training.
“Today I can be from this other side, but there are things that do not change and remain: the feeling, what it means to represent the country, the Argentine flag …”, Pérez tells CAB press. It does not matter how or the form, but emotions transcend regardless of the place she occupies and Rocío, who grew up and fell in love with basketball in Casa de Padua, the patio of her house, puts it into words.
“A lot of years have passed since Thailand, but now, seeing and knowing how a game is planned, how all the scouting task is done and seeing what the other teams are like, it is taking on a greater dimension than we did that time at the World Cup. The value of what that litter achieved, being on the other side now and thinking, Look what you were part of and what you did! Now, although it is the same, you travel to the same tournament, it is a new experience because you already have that previous experience and you regain dimension, more than ever, of that medal that was achieved “.
We are talking about one of the most important feats in the history of women’s basketball in Argentina. Over time the achievement acquired much more boom, it reaffirms itself over the years. And although this context is framed in the coldness of the results, because ultimately it is what the statistics reflect, we must not forget that this team had a special chemistry as a group. Not for nothing ended up being a litter that later turned mostly to the Senior Selection.
Pérez recalls that in the run-up to the 2009 World Cup there were no great expectations and that on the preparatory tour it was somewhat difficult to trust in having good results in Bangkok. Then everything went ideally: in the first phase they lost against Australia in the debut (75-51) but later they won key duels against Korea (73-63) and France (60-58); In the second round he started with a defeat against the Czech Republic (72-60) and then achieved other great triumphs against Brazil (70-46) and Lithuania (61-57), a huge victory against Russia in the quarterfinals (67-65), a setback against Spain in the semis (67-49) and the final celebration against Canada in the match for the bronze (58-51).
“In the previous tour we had done, in which we were away from home for about a month missing our families, we lost by 40 against rivals that we were going to have in the World Cup … and that fact of playing against the same teams again already in the tournament, he made us wonder a bit about the meaning of going. Then everything that happened ended up happening “recalls Rochi, who knows how to bring all those sensations to this litter of youngsters that she accompanies today.
“I tell the girls that, as before there weren’t so many networks, you were only going to play … you didn’t even know which players you were going to face or the potential of the other team. So you didn’t take on the dimension of what it was to play. a World Cup, it was more to go to the barracks and see what happened. Now you know everything, there is a lot of information, you have a scouting player by player. At some point that ignorance favored us, that unconsciousness benefited us. But obviously it is also It is true that all that information can be used in your favor now, and there is the work that we have to do and how we can transfer it “.
This study is part of the progress itself, of the evolution of the game and one of the cogs in its development. That is why the work carried out by both Rocío and Ignacio Navazo, both assistants of Seba Silva in this Selection, is decisive. And it includes everyone, including Silva himself and the other coaches of the selected team, with Sandra Pavón, Agustín Lucak, Lali González and the entire staff of Gregorio Martínez. Analyze the game, the scouting of the rivals, look for advantages from that, plan and project.
In terms of projection, we must not forget that this litter is in its last stage of training before making the leap to the Major, and with all that that implies, developing and seeking to empower these players thinking ahead is also part of the strategy. Whether for the National Team or for all women’s basketball in general, in the guidelines that have been marking the evolution of the discipline. Rocío knows the effort that it takes and that she personally had to do in the beginning.
“Women’s basketball in Argentina made a lot of progress and that helps the growth of the girls to be followed in another way. There is the Women’s League, the Federal League, the Development League … there is a plan so that all this has a continuity and the work can be deepened, so that the players can continue to develop, and the CAB supports that idea a lot. There was always that hard cut from U19 to First, in which you went from playing 35-40 minutes in the U19 of your club to play 5 in First Division, and there was a break in advance. Today that changed, thanks to the planning that is being done with the National Team and the advances that the women’s team is having in recent times “, highlights Pérez, recalling that as a player she had a visit to Unión Florida, a club she came to through Seba Silva, and her current status with Los Indios de Moreno, where she played in the last Women’s League and is also a coach.
Beyond her role as an assistant, from the knowledge of the game, the study and her training as a coach, Rocío also has a crucial contribution based on her experience. It is not something that has to do directly with the curriculum or the trajectory that one has, but with the experiences, with knowing the feeling that the players have in the previous and during the tournament, with understanding situations that only a player can know.
“With Sandra (Pavón, a historical member of the National Team, today part of the staff also as assistant to the Major and coach of the U16) we always talk about instilling that part of the player, regardless of which side she plays today. Sandra obviously has much more. journey than me, but we always try to add from experience, from experiences and how to pass or understand each moment. I feel that an important part for me to be here today is because of and for that, for that part that I can contribute to the girls , from how to handle themselves, from having experienced the tournament and to accompany them in what is so important to them “.
Expectations, anxiety, nerves, excess energy … Rocío understands all that. She lived it, and today she can also bear witness to it, so it will be a balm for all these young U19 girls who are embarking on their World Cup dream in Hungary.
And add: “They saw the team photo and there are many players they don’t know. I think more than one had no idea that I played in a World Cup (laughs), and they start asking you about the trip, about the tournament, how is the previous one , because of the matches … We won unexpected matches, and that gives me a foot to wonder why they can’t do it too? Here we are living a very nice environment and with many expectations. It is a beautiful experience, we hope that they enjoy it as much as we did back then. The girls asked me and still ask me a lot about how day-to-day is at a World Cup “.
Already in a tournament climate and hours after Argentina takes to the field to face a new World Cup dream, Pérez also left his vision on what improved this group of players who since October last year have been working through various concentrations at CeNARD and that he has so many weeks of work on him.
“This is a litter that has been working together for a long time. The truth is that from October of last year to today the girls had a very marked advance, both physically and technically. It seems to me that they too were gradually getting into that climate of the World Cup, they got more ready, so the head reacts in a different way and that helps them focus on everything that is coming “.
With the simplicity that characterizes her and the low profile that she has always had, the coach does not stop feeling blessed by the opportunity that has come to her in this Selection. The illusion grows bigger, the desire for the team to take to the field and for all that work to be turned over, but without forgetting the enjoyment generated by the prestigious experience of being part of a World Cup.
“I am happy, very happy, it fills me with joy that they have chosen me for this moment that I also lived and felt in a very special way. Now I want to accompany all the girls and make them enjoy it. We train a lot for this and I hope that we go well, in everything that can help from experience I will be and with the entire coaching staff we are hopeful “Rocío closes, with the expectation and emotion on the surface of living another World Cup again.
Photographs: Marcelo Endelli / CAB