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Former world champion ‘Mono’ Baracetti invests in next generation

Former world champion Mariano 'Mono' Baracetti
Porto, Portugal, August 1, 2014 – The name Mariano Joaquín Baracetti should ring a bell with most beach volleyball fans. The now 40-year old Argentinean, better known as ‘Mono’, won the FIVB World Championships in 2001 in Klagenfurt.

Baracetti also represented his country in three Olympic Games. With José Salema he finished 19th at the Olympics in Sydney (2000) and with Martin Conde he achieved 9th place in Athens (2004) and 19th in Beijing (2008). With Conde he also won the FIVB World Tour Championship in 2002.

Baracetti retired in 2009, but now he is back at another FIVB World Championship, the U19 in Porto. He is coaching the Argentine pairs Leo Aveiro and Santiago Aulisi and Camila Hiruela Tapia and Irene Verasio. But in between he had time to answer a few questions.

Q: Did winning the World Championships change your life in anyway? “Sports wise it was the most satisfactory and the biggest emotion that I have ever felt as a player. But it didn’t change me mentally nor my personality, it only made me more confident and secure in my actions and my believes. It ensured me that this path was the right one for me to pursue. The path of training really hard, of sacrifice.“

Q: How is beach volleyball doing in Argentina?
“It is very different. The players in Europe for example are much more competitive, they are more mature because they compete a lot more than we do in Argentina. They play all year long and the national championship lasts for 4 months and there are games every weekend. The level of the competition is very high and there’s a need to be very strong mentally but also physically of course. But the mental pressure is indeed a key factor.”

Q: What do you do to improve and develop beach volleyball in Argentina?

“Well, now that I’m a coach in the junior categories, I make sure I pass on to them my 15 years of experience on the World Tour. And I put a lot of emphasis on the mental part of it, the confidence, how to deal with defeats.”

Q: Do you think that volleyball has changed a lot since you were a player?
“Yes, it has changed a lot. Regarding the physical aspect of the players, that is very different from the old days. There are players today who are very tall. Before I was considered to be tall with 1.94 m and right now I probably would have to go to defence. Today they are taller, but I think they also have less technique.”

Q: Do you think the level of the players is any different?
“Yes, technically their level is much lower. They are less prepared and the game is much more about the physical aspects such as the height of the players, their ability of blocking, endurance etc.”

Q: Was it difficult to change from player to coach?
“The feelings and how I experience the game is very similar. I live the game as well, I suffer when we lose, and I get happy when we win. And that’s really good because that way I never forget how my players are feeling and for that reason I avoid being so critical because I know how it feels and I know that the amount of emotions is very high. Especially with the youngest I have to me more cautious.”

Q: Do you prefer coaching or playing?
“Right now I don’t want or wish to be a player. My time has passed and I don’t have that urge to sacrifice. So I’m really satisfied as a coach.”

Q: Do you think there is potential in your group of players?

“There is a little bit of everything. There are people that have all the qualities necessary mentally and physically and there are others that need a much slower process of growth. For example, there are the ones physically ready but they need a lot of work on the mental part and are emotionally weak and for me that is the part that makes a difference. At coach has to be kind of a psychologist.”

Q: What are your plans for the future?

“As a coach the same as a player, to always get better. I don’t set extremely high goals. I just want to be better every day and that’s a factor you only control yourself, because winning or losing depends on a lot of factors, but being always better only depends on me.”

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