Up close and personal with Sergio Afric

Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 6:30

In an exclusive interview with sportinmalta.com following the arrival of the national water polo team from Turkey, Sergio Afric speaks to us about Maltese water polo, his role with the national team and more.

1. You have nowadays won everything there is to win in the Maltese water polo scene. What motivates you to continue. Is it the national team?

I’ve already been in the world of water polo for nearly forty years and this sport means a lot to me and my whole life revolves around it, and
living this sport professionally at high levels made me become competitive and it inevitably made me to want to win and always establish myself everywhere.
I have been in Malta for fifteen consecutive years and have obtained many satisfactions. Besides winning a lot, I also made many good friends and I can honestly say that I have great friendships with many of my players, which is something that truly makes me
happy. I have a natural desire to improve Maltese water polo because it has a distinguishing tradition and a good level, which is something remarkable considering Malta’s small population.

2. Sergio, over the past few years Malta has obtained respectable results when one considers the limited resources at hand. Do you think that the national team can reach higher levels and what needs to be done to achieve these levels?

I’m sure it can but we need everyone s collaboration and sacrifice. It is necessary to play many international friendly games so we can compare with other nations and grow. Without this we will remain at the present level.

3. How would you rate the Maltese national team on the international scale?

I think that we gained some positions this year and we have the chance to improve more with the qualifications in Holland in October.
At the moment we are between the 13th and 16th place.

4. Besides being the national team coach you are also the ASA technical director, what does a typical work day have in store for you?

I have to research and always be informed about everything regarding water polo. I’m also in charge of the youth sectors and last year I followed the preparation of the Under 19 national team for the qualification tournament that took place in Malta.

As the ASA director I also started off the national under 14 team which trains all the year round. That s because I want to prepare a good base for the future of Maltese water polo. I’m lucky because all the Maltese teams train at the national pool so I can follow all the national team players and communicate with my coaching colleagues.

5. Do you think that the local youth water polo sector is being neglected?

I do not think so. I just want more attention in choosing and following the young players and one of my main aims is to teach them the right sportive mentality to these youngsters.

6. At sportinmalta.com we published an article about the fact that you called up all your Sliema players in the national squad. Don’t you think that coaching Sliema and the national team can give rise to a conflict of interest especially in a small country like Malta?

I think this depends on the motivations and the coach’s personality. With me this is not the case because as I already said, I want to win and always give the best I can and I perfectly know that to achieve the best results you can never compromise.
For the national team I called up the best players that were available and my choice had nothing to do with team colours. The national team is something else, but you cannot forget that Sliema won the most prestigious titles in recent Maltese water polo history, and they did so even when I wasn’t coaching them.

Sliema’s under 19 team are the present champions in their category so their presence in the national team is a logic consequence of the results they were able to achieve. On the other hand a good number of Neptunes players refused the national team call up due to work
and school commitments.

7. Hungary is landlocked and is one of the best water polo nations, yet we have a beautiful sea and one water polo pool of international standards. Should Malta have indoor water polo pools?

Due to the Maltese climate we don’t need have indoor water polo pools. Malta has a small population and when compared with countries like Hungary, which are much bigger, it has a very good water polo level.

8. Steve Camilleri has done us proud over the past two seasons that he has spent in Italy. Do you think there are more water polo players that have the potential to succeed abroad. Were you upset that he could not join the team in Turkey?

Players that can follow in Steve’s path need to be scouted from amongst our youths. I think there are two young players that have great talent and physical qualities that will enable them to become good water polo players : Jerome Gabaretta and Jordan Camilleri.
They are also very serious and disciplined which are things that I really appreciate but their athletic career depends on their choices and their
ambitions.

About Steve I understand him because he has already been playing abroad for the past 3 years and the reality there is different and so are his ambitions. Maybe someone from here should have pushed him to join the water polo national team, because for
every player, being called up to play for your country should be the greatest honour. For example Molina, a Pro Recco player, came to Istanbul to follow his team even though everyone knew Spain would win anyway.

9. Do you agree that the media coverage of the local water polo scene is very poor compared to other countries?

No, I think that the Maltese television and journalism dedicate a lot of space to the local water polo scene.

10. You took a young squad to Turkey for the European Championship qualification. Do you have any regrets of leaving behind any player who could have been useful in Turkey and brought back some more respectable results?

The tournament in Turkey was a perfect opportunity to improve for our next commitments. I called the best players available for the roles needed and those that have the best team spirit. I want to make clear that I didn’t leave certain players behind, but they gave up because they had work or university and could not make it.
This time around I had four players missing from the team that I took to Lugano. These were J. Cachia, M.Pisani, J. Gabaretta and S. Camilleri. Apart from the fact that I had another problem because S. Gravina and J. Camilleri who are the primary candidates to join the national team couldn’t make it as well due to work and university commitments.

11. You channel a lot of you passion towards our island in our national water polo team. Do you have any message like get through to the local water polo fans?

Yes, I have. I want to tell them that it is not possible to win every time and that their favourite teams must always be supported, both in good and in bad times. That other teams have to be respected as well because competition is always healthy and a right sporting mentality is essential. I also want to tell them that they can be proud of their national team and that it is a nice and respectable thing to
follow their national team and that we really need their support.

12. On a lighter note, if you have to select a Maltese dream team from all the players that you have coached over the past 10 years, who would be the 7 players that would make it into the water?

During these 15 years I coached all the best Maltese players and I honestly respect them all so for me it impossible to answer this question.

Thank you for your time Mr. Afric.

I want to thank you for the time and space you gave me.





2 Comments

  1. John Fenech says:

    I do not agree with sergio, i think he doesnt follow much since it is in english or maltese. In the newspapers wpolo and swimming is always in back pages same with tv and news. A shame when stuff like football internationally is given more importance than local!

    [Reply]

  2. pat fenech says:

    well done sergio and keep up d good work. hop i can be lucky to meet you personally this summer. pat

    [Reply]

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