In his second season on the bench, in 2004, Ambros Martín (Arrecife, Las Palmas; 55 years old) received an offer from Navarra, where he was well known because he had been champion of everything there as a player. But the proposal was not from his former team, the now extinct San Antonio, but from Itxako, a women’s team from Estella. And he hesitated. He knew practically nothing about handball practiced by women, he had barely seen matches. Some name and little else. So he picked up the phone and sought advice from two leading technicians: Jordi Ribera and Manolo Cadenas. “Go away. In the end, it is handball. Forget if it is male or female. If you want to be a coach, there you have an option ”, they recommended him, as revealed by Ambros himself some time later.
He listened to them and in that city, half an hour from Pamplona, he began to raise the best record of a Spanish trainer in this sport in the women’s section. The best card to now become the Guerreras coach, replacing José Ignacio Prades, who will be his second after a year and a half at the helm of the team. He made that Itxako runner-up in Europe in 2011 before the country’s economic crisis took him two years later, and in this decade of international adventure he has won four Champions with Gyori, from Hungary (2013, 2014 , 2017 and 2018), the first weekend of June he will look for his fifth with the same club, and he has directed many of the best players of this period, also in the Russian, Romanian and Roston-Don teams (1,200 kilometers south of Moscow).
“I am competitive to the max. From the first moment, I’m going to want the team to work. I also like to plan everything ahead of time, I don’t like to leave anything to chance, ”he said of himself this Tuesday at the presentation. The president of the federation assured that his project is in the medium and long term -it has only been signed until December 31, 2024 because then there are elections in the highest body-, although his first objective is immediate and the highest possible: to classify the team for the 2024 Paris Games. “Neither as a player nor as a coach have I been able to participate in an Olympic event. We are already working to arrive and do it in the best conditions”, pointed out Martín. The ticket passes, from the outset, to reach the quarterfinals of the next World Cup (November 29-December 17 in Norway, Denmark and Sweden) to access the pre-Olympic tournaments, a goal that will require a kidney stroke.
not be a surprise
“I have trained the best and they have forced me to improve. In those teams you are forced to win or, at least, to arrive. Here [en la selección]It is an illusion to be as high as possible”, the new coach qualified. “In the big championships, the same teams always qualify. [a la lucha por las medallas], but there is also some surprise. What I would like is for Spain not to be a surprise, but to be one of those usual teams in the semifinals and finals, like Norway, France, Denmark, Sweden or the Netherlands. We are not yet at that regular level, but I hope that one day we will be able to rub shoulders continuously with these rivals”, said Ambros Martín, a man “more of work than words” who, according to Blázquez, the federation had been seducing for more than a decade. “This is like when you are looking for love, you insist and you achieve it,” described the president of Spanish handball.
The new coach already knows the wickers: lack of foreign pitching – “we will have to build that with time”, he warned -, and the strong points of character, the ability to unbalance one on one and “the defenses that do not like to the rivals”. A basic menu that, after the progressive withdrawal of the best generation of players (Marta Mangué and Macarena Aguilar, at the head), has only given for a few bells (world silver in 2019, above all) within a discreet general picture. A month ago, he had a hard time beating Austria in the World Cup qualifying tie. The dejection of the League (15th of the ranking European and without possible access to the Champions League) since that global crisis that was charged to his Itxako hasn’t helped either. The intention of the coach is, over time, to participate in the direction of the entire training pyramid of handball, as Jordi Ribera does in the masculine.
Until the end of this campaign, he will make the position compatible with Gyori and then he will dedicate himself entirely to the national team. “I think I will miss the day-to-day job,” he admitted. “What I want is to get the players across that, if we are part of this, we have to compete to the best of our ability. Without setting limits and being aware of the current reality of handball”, concluded Ambros Martín, the most acclaimed Spanish coach to lift the flight of a team with skin and declining results.
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