The debut of a pelotari who has something special

The Álava pelotari, a promise in which the experts have high hopes. / the second salguero

The professional hand in Álava returns to the fore with Laudio Arkaitz Eskuza’s player, who is playing his first elite game today at Astelena in Eibar

After many years of drought, the Álava pelota academy has found another vein. In 2020 it was Larrazabal who made the leap to professionalism with Baiko. Today he will debut with Aspe in the Astelena pediment of Eibar Arkaitz Eskuza (Laudio, 2004). More than fifteen years after the last defender in the province, Iñigo Nalda, had to leave this sport due to problems in his hands, a new diamond in the rough appears.

It still has edges to polish, but the people in charge of the Eibar promoter like it, with whom it has been working since August 2021. This afternoon (5:00 p.m.) it will receive the alternative at the cathedral. Together with Elezkano II he will face Darío and Arbizu. «Although I am calm, it is normal that I am nervous because I am going to fulfill a dream. Since I was little I have wanted to debut, but it is difficult because very few arrive », he admits.

Since his mother enrolled him in the ikastola to play ball as an extracurricular at the age of four, he has not been separated from her again. She says she doesn’t know what hooked her, “but he wouldn’t let go.” In her case, there were no siren songs from other disciplines that could divert attention from her, as happens on many occasions as the years go by and her hands begin to suffer. “She has something, because if you play it is difficult to leave her.” What’s more, since she was one of the few of hers, she convinced her friends to sign up and play with them. “Although after a while they left it.”

He became part of the Herriaren Pilota Elkartea club in his town and continued his progression under the guidance of Humberto Alzaga. However, in cadets he began to play with Zeanuri “because in Álava there were very few my age and he wanted to continue evolving.” Later he was with Orozko, and this year he has been part of the Lemoa school with which he has won the elite Bizkaia Championship together with Etxebarria.

“We believe that he has potential and that he can perform. Until where? We must go step by step”

He says goodbye “happy” to the amateur field after winning the Olazar de Zaldibar tournament, in the company of Murua. But he also has other prestigious titles to his credit such as Dinastía Etxabe, from Zumaia, Cafés Baqué and Lezama. “I’ve gotten them all in the past few years.” Now another path begins. He has a two-year contract to demonstrate his progression with the best in the specialty. “I’m going to take them as a learning experience, and then we’ll see if my level goes up or not.”

During the year and a half that he has been with the Aspe coach, Jokin Etxaniz, he has already confirmed an improvement that allows him to define himself as a defender “with two good hands that when I have the opportunity I like to release the ball, even in the middle of the frontis because the Hit also does damage. He has a good volley that, at 190 centimeters tall, makes him difficult to miss when he’s in the front frames, a circumstance that allows him to cover more ground. “I also like to play it when I’m ahead and I have a chance.”

improve the encounter

However, he still needs to improve his encounter with the ball to get more out of his punching and physicality. A second-year high school student, he plans to earn a higher degree related to sports.

Last Monday in Amorebieta he did his last training session before his debut. With Elezkano II, Elordi and Zabaleta, his reference. “As a child, Barriola was also one because he had two good hands and because of his way of being both on and off the pitch.” Today begins a new stage, and who knows if in a few seasons he may be for the young fans of pelota from Álava.

Praise for Extaniz

Etxaniz saw Arkaitz Eskuza for the first time in a fronton in Lazkao. He does not remember if he was a cadet or a youth player then, but he does remember that it was in a Basque League match. “He lost easy.” But the ex-professional from Bergara, that kid stayed “in the retina”. “You see that he has something that the others lack.” He was special.

They have followed him ever since. No hurry. «He was not well known but he began to stand out, and in recent tournaments it has become more evident. However, from now on in professionals it is another story », he highlights.

He started working with Laudio’s about a year ago. He first individually to begin to refine his technique, and in recent weeks he has taken the step and has started training with the professionals. “We believe that he has potential and that he can perform. Until where? You have to go step by step », he emphasizes.

“Interesting” progression

Eskuza has enough displacement in his hands to win a two-year contract with Aspe, “but we have to see how he adapts and his evolution,” Etxaniz emphasizes. He says it from experience. «He is 18 years old and there are still many things to improve, so he has to take it easy. Although he looks good at first, he needs to work on his physique, and we are correcting his movements so that he improves ». So far the progression has been “interesting”, but they have to see how he adapts to the different rhythm with which he plays in professionals.

The data

  • Name
    Arkaitz Escuza (8-11-2004). Natural de Laudio.

  • Position
    Defender. He has two fairly loose hands and a good volley.

  • honors
    In amateurs, he has won important tournaments such as Olazar, from Zaldibar, Dinastía Etxabe, from Zumaia, Cafés Baqué and Lezama.



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