Roberto Horacio Mancini: A tall Juninense pivot from the ’60s and’ 70s

I was born in Junín in the neighborhood of El Picaflor, Italia and Remedios de Escalada de San Martín. A spectacular neighborhood. All working people. There were two groups. We were the youngest, and the oldest like Linguido, Greco, Mirambell, who were the ones we had to hook up with to play ball in the street.

People who lived in the park where a settlement had been made and where they had a soccer field always passed through Italia Street. These people stopped every day to have a snack at Greco’s bowling alley that was in Italy and Remedios de Escalada de San Martín.

And we had become friends with those people who over time invited us to play soccer on their little field in Borchex Park. 60 years ago.

I did elementary school in school number two and high school in the historic Comercial. I went with Rosellini, Susana Garone, Marita Clarke.

I did various sports, but the one I participated in the least was soccer, perhaps because I am almost six feet tall.

Since I lived two blocks from the Los Indios club and two from the Junín club, I spent it at the Junín club, in addition to being on the street. There were no dangers on the street back then.

In the Junín club there was Arturo Tuso, who played basketball, and he invited me to participate. It was not the club of today. He was in a delicate financial situation. We trained at night and when the light went out. Arturo Tuso made me sting the ball in the dark. The problem was when the ball was lost, you had to look for it practically in the dark. It was a concrete court, outdoors. But we lived in the club.

We played with Coco Marrafini, Carlos Mastromauro, Omar Valdés. We didn’t participate in championships because there weren’t even balls.
From there I went to Los Indios because basketball in Junín came at a time that was over. They were of players Pichi Cairnie, Hugo Violino. For me Hugo Violino was one of the top stars that Junín basketball gave, along with the Pagella and the Biurrun. Hugo was exceptional, of another category.

I started with them, but then they retired and we stayed with Darío Racero, Roberto Lisa, and Gringo Rochetti. We made a good group and competed at the first level. The club had great leaders like Mario Pugliese. It was a beautiful time for Junín basketball, with fair competition. Inside the field we killed each other. I remember that with Totón Conte we elbowed each other to death. But off the court, great friends. With Quique Biurrun, another basketball glory, the same. We gave each other everything and the game ended and outside the court we were great friends, a friendship that extended with the passage of time.

They were other times. They played for the shirt, for the love of the club we represented they didn’t charge a nickel. They even cried when we lost.

From there I went to July 9, because the clubs weren’t as good as they are now and elementary things were always missing. From people to work to basic elements. There were no balls to play with.

In “9” it was my best stage, with Polo Cárdenas as coach. We had formed a team with the Pagella brothers, Santiago Carnelli and Dady Romero. Then there was Rubén Bertinotti.

It was a dream time. There were more people outside the court than inside watching the game. There was no room for everyone. There are a thousand anecdotes. Once we were champions, beating Argentino on their court.

The games began to live a week in advance. We practiced on the 9 de Julio field and the leaders hid people in the plaza to spy on them not to come from other clubs to gossip about how we trained. Crazy.

Each one was very fond of their club. We defended him to the death, we stayed to eat, we spent many hours at the club. Clubs are extremely important to the life of societies.

I finished my career there at 35 years old with almost 28 years dedicated to basketball. I have wonderful friends with whom I continue to hang out to this day, beyond that later life took us on different paths. Totón Conte from Ciclista, Darío Sabelli and Jorge Viaño from San Martín, Sofía from Sarmiento, Biurrun and Josecito Gashp from Argentino. Dani Ferrari, Roberto Lisa. It was a very different time from today.

I watch a lot of sport. And I notice that in the countries that are more advanced than us, they give it more importance. I think that all the boys who walk in the street should be inside a club, practicing an activity. For me it starts with the family and continues with education. I would take so many cell phones from the boys, so many social networks and I would put them to do sports. Sport has to be accompanied by education.

For example, in the US, along with what boys study, they have their compulsory sports activity. To show how they are doing, you have to look at how the Olympic games went and how it went for us.

Ginobili? The best of all time. Together with Messi they are the great athletes of Argentina, not only in their activity, but in the human part.