Saturday, December 4

“It is a great responsibility, but I am very excited and more so being the World Cup in Spain”

José Ignacio Prades Pons (Petrer, 8-9-1975) at age 16 had to stop playing handball due to injury. He started training kids in his city, but soon focused his career as technician in the female category. He trained Elda, Monóvar, Elche, Elda again and now he has been at the Atlético Guardés from Galicia. He has spent four years as Carlos Viver’s assistant in the Spanish team, achieving a silver in the 2019 World Cup in Japan, the greatest success of Spanish women’s handball, and a gold in the 2018 Mediterranean Games. In addition to being present in several European and world. After the elimination of Spain in the last Tokyo Games, the Federation has wanted to look for a new coach and has opted to give continuity to the project and trust the Petreri coach.

Was the departure of Carlos Viver and his appointment expected?

I did not expect. As events unfolded, he knew how things were. When the Tokyo Games ended, I had the feeling that we had paid a high bill. We lost in the round of 16, but the team competed well and showed up. We lacked a certain regularity. Four years ago, when Carlos took the reins of the national team, both he and the Federation asked me for help and, now, seeing that things were going wrong, they will have wanted to take another approach and have thought of me. I am always here to help. My relationship with Carlos is good and as things were, thinking about the possibility of a replacement, he did not hesitate to tell me that if they proposed it to me, I should go ahead, make my way and take the bull by the horns.

How do you approach this stage?

With great responsibility and enthusiasm. We have a World Cup in December, which we are going to celebrate for the first time in Spain. Time is short and you have to get to work now. Above all, we must take advantage of all the good we have, there is a lot, because in the last four years a very good job has been done with Carlos. Logically, each one tries to give his personal touch and stamp. For four years we have had a wide group of players, because we have worked in the present and in the future. We have people to choose from and the most important thing is to get it right by thinking about the fitness of each one. It will also be essential that everyone helps. Without everyone’s help it will be difficult. We must all row in the same boat.

And above all, Spain is going to play the first phase in Torrevieja, in our province and very close to his native Petrer …

Yes, very close to home. It is another attraction and that makes me super excited, because a women’s World Cup has never been held in Spain before. Playing at home shouldn’t become a slab and add pressure to us. On the contrary, it should be a relief to see our people in the stands supporting. It is an incentive and we have to enjoy our World Cup.

After 30 years, is becoming a national coach the culmination of your career?

It is an opportunity that I thought would never happen. I have to enjoy it and take advantage of it, because I am privileged. And, above all, grateful to all those people who have helped and supported me during these 30 years that I have been on the bench. To all those who have encouraged me to continue growing and do what I liked. Without the clubs I’ve been to and the players I’ve had, it wouldn’t have been possible to get here.

It has been an incredible weekend for women’s handball in the province. Elche has won the Super Cup and has been chosen as coach. Can both serve as motivation to regain the level that was lost?

The province of Alicante and the Valencian Community have always been a reference. Many things have been done well in sport and there has always been a lot of activity, especially until before the crisis. It is a land of good handball players. Elche won the Cup and now they have won the Super Cup and are making a name for themselves and a gap between the teams that fight for the titles. From here many players and clubs have come out that have been in the highest. It is complicated, but it is working well from below, from the base. This training should allow us to grow in difficult times. Other teams have had to reinvent themselves. Elda or Alicante are working well with the quarry. Many successes are being achieved at the grassroots level. It is a matter of time and I hope we have another good time and the clubs have learned their lesson to overcome the crisis.

In the last Tokyo Games were Lara González, from Santa Pola, and Paula Arcos, from Petrer, with the «Warriors». Elche players Ivet Musons and Lysa Tchapchet were on the pre-list and then they stayed. Do you have them for your next calls?

The range is wide. The good work in recent years has allowed us to have future players for the national team. They all do not fit on a list of 14-16 or 18. All four have already been and accumulate minutes and important competitions to be on the next list. Hopefully I can hit the mark and find a balance depending on the form of the players. It is difficult and I know that, in some things, I will have to make tough decisions.

Finally, the great equality between teams has shown that it is difficult to repeat a medal. Spain that was silver in the 2019 World Cup and in the Games not be among the top eight …

The reality is like that. They are objective things. Spain is not among the best in the world, but it has qualities and values ​​that make it a very competitive team. To be on the podium of any competition you have to be at a very high level. In the 2019 World Cup in Japan we were very regular and hence the success of the runner-up. Nobody gave us anything. There are many countries that have players who have been in their national teams for a long time and they all play in the Champions League and in very powerful league clubs that invest a lot of money. We have improved a lot in recent years and we have that competitive gene that makes us able to fight against them.

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