Puerto Ricos head coach: ”We were all little once”

Nathalys Ceballos, Puerto Rico. Photo: Ludvig Thunman / BILDBYRÅN

Puerto Rico are competing at the World Championship for the first time in the nations history and besides the win against Uzbekistan the team has lost all games so far. The critique against the IHF:s decision to expand the number of teams to 32 has been huge. In an interview with Handbollskanalen Puerto Ricos head coach Camilo Estevez gives his view on the critique.
– We were all little once, says Estevez.

Puerto Rico has lost three out of four games so far during the World Championship. They lost by 40 goals against Netherlands, 38 goals against Sweden and 36 goals against Norway. Their only victory so far came against Uzbekistan.

The critique against the IHF, who has decided to expand the number of teams to 32, has been huge and nobody enjoys watching games that ends with those type of huge differences as stated earlier.

Handbollskanalen has been in contact with the Puerto Rican head coach Camilo Estevez and he gives his view on the critique that nations like his own are participating at the World Championship.

– I respect that point of view but I disagree 100 percent. Getting here for us small countries was tremendously difficult. Nobody gave it to as and the rest of the emerging countries of the region competed very hard to prevent it. We feel tremendously fortunate and have a responsibility to represent our country to the confederation with dignity. I would ask everyone to be sensitive and inclusive because we were all little once and helping and respecting us is not so difficult, says Camilo Estevez.

What does the players say regarding big losses against teams that have come further in their development?

– They feel a strange mixture of senstations. They wish they could be stronger to compete better but on the other hand they thank and enjoy tremendously playing against what are their references and examples today and living closely the experience of playing at the highest level. Something that was only possible via TV.

How do you think as a coach before a game against, for example, the World champions?

– Coaches are responsible for motivating our players and transmitting that as in life competing with the best can only lead us to a better global understanding of the game and ourselves. On the other hand each goal, every good defense, every successful defensive fold is a huge victory and unique satisfaction.

What do you feel that Puerto Rican handball has to develop the most?

– Grow the number of participants in our country. If the base of the pyramid grows we will undoubtedly be more solid and expand our possibilities of being more competitive at all levels.

What can other countries do to help Puerto Rico develop as a handball nation?

– We would love for countries like Sweden to help us establish agreements with their clubs in different categories to bring talented boys and girls to train and play at that level of handball and when they return they will be ambassadors of that much-needed handball culture.

Handbollskanalen also asked Estevez if Puerto Rico ever will reach a level where they can go home with the gold medal from the World championship.

– We are not close. But 25 years ago nobody imagined that we could win the confederation of North America and the Caribbean and we already did it twice, so nothing is impossible.

What does it mean for Puerto Rican handball that you are competing at the World championship?

– The greatest pride and the greatest impulse in terms of mass dissemination of our sport in the country. In addition to the best memories for a group of dreamers who have been working for a long time to reach this Olympus.