Che García: ‘The players are going to leave their lives’

Nestor Garcia, 56 years old, globetrotting coach in 31 club cycles and (five) national teams, is like when, at 23 years old, Julio Toro called him to collaborate with him in a Puerto Rican team (in that country he was nicknamed by the influence of Ernesto Guevara in the Caribbean, by relating him to Argentina). Che played (little) in Olimpo de Bahía Blanca, his lifelong club, where he had spent his days and nights, waiting for his father, who had the concession of the canteen. He was already a coach. It always was, from the soul. And now training the national team is the most for himl. This is how he tells it in conversation with Ole from New York, where he went to visit one of his five children.

-What does it feel like to lead the National Team beyond the fact that you’ve been in many places already?

-One, when you have a passion for something, you always feel these things. Every time I go to direct I feel something, and it was always clear to me that the day I didn’t have that … He grabs my hands and stomach, but this time he grabbed me like when I left my country when I was 23 years old. Something grabbed me inside, it has a lot to do with joy, pride, honor. With having felt that I had a career. Because one, in the maelstrom of coming and going, being in national teams, tournaments, you see your children, you leave them, you go to another country, it is within all that. But with this appointment I felt that what I had done from a very young age, I felt that I had a career that was already done. Not that I am done, but that what I had chosen I did not know if it was going to turn out like this. And it worked out for me.

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– So many clubs, so many countries, didn’t they complicate your personal life?

-I made it my lifestyle. I arrive at a place, generally you are in a hotel for the first few days, and I hang up my coats, suit and shirt, so they don’t wrinkle. Then I leave everything else in the suitcase, which happens to be a large drawer in the closet. Because if later, tomorrow, I have to go somewhere else, I save what I have to save and I go. That’s why I say it became a lifestyle for me. He taught me, I don’t know, the same way. I go to a place, I arrive with all the desire and I am full where I am. I try to take care of everything, I take the blows. I believe that life passes by taking the blows and getting up, that’s how you mark yourself. And we are full of griefs: whenever I have to leave my children, for me it is tremendous. But they have always been supporting me, as I have supported them in their decisions. Since we were little we have explained to them, I know they have suffered and cried when they were little, but they always understood that it was my way of life, the support. And they always told me “go and break it, if not, stay here.”

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-Don’t you put down roots in the places where you are going to lead?

-I end up in a place and I’ll stay two or three more days fixing things, and it clicks. It’s like it automatically crashed. Of course I would like it to be my country, but I don’t know where I am going to end my life either. But I am very Argentine. When I go to my country it is different: the roots are the roots, from the food, certain routines, smells, tastes that are ours. And I’m already waiting to get there to eat a good rack of ribs, which I can’t get anywhere else, with the bone along, ha ha ha.

-What happened to you when you played against Argentina?

-I played while in Uruguay, with Puerto Rico … But the strong thing was in the 2014 South American in Margarita, when already leading Venezuela we had to play the final with Argentina. Just of the 12 players in the National Team, seven had become champions with me when Julio Lamas, who was the main coach, asked me to direct the Sudamericano de Chaco, and it was quite a buzz in Venezuela, what was I going to do, was I going to play against my country … Before playing the final I spoke with my psychiatrist because I had a salad on my head. She, Elina, may she rest in peace, was very clear. He asked me questions: did you want to be a coach? Did you want to play finals? Do you love your country? Do you love the country that feeds you and gives you a job? I, to everything, I answered yes. And then he said to me: “How many people are living right now?” I replied that I just … “Go, stupid, and enjoy it,” he said. Good practice.

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Che, an idol in Venezuela.

Che, an idol in Venezuela.

-What happened to the players in that important game?

-Before playing the game I used to watch them, and I know them all. But no one came to greet me, no one. They were getting warm, they passed by me, and no one, no one, greeted me. Rare. When the match ended, in which we were champions, then we met at the hotel where the two teams were staying, and Martín Leiva had a spectacular attitude by giving me his shirt. And they all told me that they hadn’t greeted me so as not to complicate things, because they listened to what I was going to do when I played against my country. There was a lot of pressure outside and they hadn’t greeted me so as not to complicate things. Take a look at those guys’ heads. That is the head that the Argentine player has.

-How do you see them today, are they motivated beyond their filming?

-These players give their lives for the National Team, they really want to. What I have heard is “Nestor, congratulations, we are all moving forward, we are looking forward to you and every time we can we will go to the National Team.” Because they are already talking, you see, that there are compromise regulations of the NBA and the Euroleague, but when they can come, everyone wants to. I listened and felt things with great desire from them. Nobody denies the National Team, they are all very involved And that is very contagious.

-How are you planning? The qualifying rounds for the World Cup with Paraguay begin next month.

-In reality, there are going to be tournaments where one is a selector, as if they were soccer qualifiers, that you spend four days and you have to do a previous job of sending a lot of information, so that when the players come they have a view through images, scouting , Whatever. I feel that we have to report very well, clearly and forcefully. The processes will all do with short and achievable goals.

Nestor Che García, 2019 Super 20 champion with San Lorenzo.

Nestor Che García, 2019 Super 20 champion with San Lorenzo.

– Summoned?

-All those in Europe, the NBA, South America, the National League and even some of the NCAA belong to the Argentine National Team (NdeR: university basketball from the United States). We have four or five ideas that will be fixed. For the different processes we will invite young people to serve as sparring and for tomorrow. And you also have to take into account the pandemic, because now for the window you can summon 12 players, but they do a PCR and there are four positives, you already have eight. That is why you have to have a base, because you arm everything with a huge expectation and you can drop it.

-The goal is the Olympic Games. from Paris 2023?

-I feel that the only thing that is constant in life and in this profession, and in what we talk about the pandemic, is change. So we are going to adjust and change. I cannot project myself when I can only now return to the country without quarantining. Because tomorrow another rule comes and it changed everything. I don’t plan until there, of course my contract is to Paris and of course I want to go, but it’s like it doesn’t come to mind now. I come to Buenos Aires and put everything together to play against Paraguay, and from there I have not moved.

-Although the National Team did not have good Games in Tokyo, it is a team that is always at the top. Is it a very high bar?

-Argentina has been in a privileged place for a long time, and that happens by competing as equals, it does not happen through the tournaments it won. Actually, we, from 2011 as a country until 2021, have won three championships: the Pre-Olympic in Mar del Plata 2011, the South American in Chaco 2012 and the Pan American in Lima 2019. But Argentina has always been a podium or reached the finals , or was fourth here, third there. It has always been, and that is what we are going to seek: to maintain ourselves. We always said what will happen when the players of the Golden Generation are over, instead of enjoying that moment, it is very typical of us. The question what are you doing seems fine to me. But I also know what a new cycle is and I know that we have good players, and it may be that hard things appear within what is the game, what is the development of players, that they are all in good health and in the process. You never know all the things that can happen, but I know that this National Team is very competitive and that we have players to play as equals against everyone. Later you can win or lose, but there is commitment, we have talent and we have experience, because the players play in great places and our league is competitive … I know it will be very difficult, I know they will demand of us, and it’s like it has to be, because we are representing the country. Because many times we do not want to pay a price, you see? We want to be in a good place, to be paid on time, to have good money, to be treated well by the press, that if we lose they will understand … And it is not like that! It is not like this. So, yes, yes, I accept this challenge. I accept it as it comes.

-You come back and you are going to watch league games.

-Yes Yes. I’m going to be. The truth is that I was difficult with the issue of the passages with this regulation that there was. I should have come back the other weekend, but since it wasn’t open yet and quarantining myself for a week didn’t work for me … How did the information come out that started on October 2, I’m leaving that day and now I’m going to watch some games. Instead of seeing them locked up in my house, I’m going to see them on the field, I’m going to talk to the people of the League. I’m even already making a list of more or less four players per position and see if another appears. I am going to see what Leo (Gutiérrez) and the other assistants that I am going to add in addition to Gringo Pelussi tell me, surely at the latest this weekend I will define it.