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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hay equipo

CanadaTwo weeks ago, I talked about that Summer of '85 in Necochea, and I mentioned that we used to go to the beach every day, and get together in the late afternoon to play volleyball. Many of us (like myself) wouldn't even show up until around 5 PM (I have always hated to go to the beach just to sunbathe, I go to the beach either to swim, play soccer or play volleyball).

Once we could finally reach the necessary number of six players, we would go to the little beach volleyball field we had, which had been erected on top of the remains of another beach called 'Stella Maris', which would cause us to have to interrupt the games frequently, to extract big sharp rocks from the sand or even (like it happened to me once) a small piece of steel wire. The procedure to follow was easy, we would just get together near the net and say in a low voice:

- Hay equipo... ('We got a team')

We would soon hear one or two replies:

- Hay antes
- Hay antes ('There's another one before')

We would do our Math, determine how much we would have to wait and then sit down to watch and 'analyze' our potential opponents.

I have already mentioned that we were a very hard-working but also visually spectacular team, which would almost never win. And whenever we did win a game, hence earning the right to remain on the field, it would only take one more game for us to walk off, heads down, after having suffered yet another humiliating defeat, beating by a team that either had 15 year old kids that were 10 times better than us or by a group of 50+ gentlemen that would slap the ball very loudly due to their lack ot technique, but that would still consistently put the ball out of our reach.

Our nemesis was the 'old guys team', made by a group of tourists from Buenos Aires and other cities, that got together in Necochea every January. I still remember the names of most of them: Eduardo (always with glasses and a hat), Tito (he was a very tall and hirsute guy), Armando (a great guy) and his brother Máximo, José (a school teacher from -I think- the city of Olavarría)... all of them very nice people and very enthusiastic about this whole beach volleyball thing, but with no clue of how to hit the ball. However, and due to their persistance and especially the old practice of fighting and arguing about almost every point to the point of exasperation, they would end beating us (almost) every time.

But as I said before, we were spectacular in victory and defeat.

There were two of three of us who could actually play this sport. I remember Luis and a few years later, siblings Alejandro and Clarisa, who did know what they were doing. Most of the rest were no virtuosos, but wouldn't ruin the games, and this group included all of the girls. Then we had the showmen, a group that included Juan, my brother Guillermo and I. We would spend the whole game making incredible and very good looking dives from one end to the other of the field, defying gravity and common sense, and very rearely winning or at least saving a point.

Finally, we had the 'comic relief' players, Julián and Ricky. Julián would make us laugh to the point of losing our concentration with his jokes and silly antics (he was really funny) and Ricky's strength were his 'power serves'. Everything was going OK until Ricky announced he was going to go for a power serve. We would step aside and watch in awe, as he stroke the ball with incredible strength. Sometimes, the ball would land on the other side of the field and then gives us the point. 95% of the cases, however, the ball would end in the sea (about 500 metres away), the street, downtown Necochea... There were even reports of people who had seen volley balls fall from the sky in the city of Temuco, in Chile. :-)

In summary: we would lose almost every game, sometimes looking really bad. But we would come back the following day because... boy did we have fun!

There was one year in which I organized a volleyball tournament along with Alejandro and Clarisa; it was late February, so most of the people we knew were already gone for the season.

I remember we made it to the final game, which was played on a February 28th, at 3:00 PM, in the middle of a torrential rainfall, because everybody was pretty much leaving the following day. Our team (called 'Las Borlas') won that tournament, and we went straight to the offices of the local newspaper to see if they can publish an article on that, because... we-just-could-not-believe-it! :-)

Picture from guiadecabanas.com


ArgentinaComo relaté hace dos semanas cuando hablaba de aquél verano del '85 en Necochea, era la costumbre de nuestro grupo de amigos la de juntarnos en la playa bien entrada la tarde para jugar volleyball. Muchos, incluso (yo entre ellos), prácticamente no hacían acto de presencia en la playa hasta cerca de las 5 de la tarde (es que yo siempre odié tomar sol, yo a la playa iba o a bañarme o a jugar al fútbol o a jugar al volley).

Una vez que por fin podíamos juntar seis personas, nos dirigíamos a la canchita de volley que había en nuestro balneario, instalado sobre los escombros de un balneario viejo que se había llamado 'Stella Maris', lo que causaba que más de una vez tuviéramos que interrumpir los partidos para rescatar de la arena enormes y afiladas piedras o directamente (como me pasó una vez) un pedazo de viga de acero. El procedimiento era siempre el mismo, nos acercábamos a la red y decíamos casi en voz baja:

- Hay equipo...

En seguida escuchábamos a uno o dos contestar:

- Hay antes
- Hay antes

Sacábamos la cuenta de cuánto teníamos que esperar y nos sentábamos a 'analizar' a nuestros posibles rivales.

Ya conté que éramos un equipo sufrido y espectacular, pero que raramente ganaba. Y si lo hacíamos, y por eso adquiríamos el derecho a continuar en la cancha, invariablemente nos marchábamos cabizbajos luego del segundo partido, derrotado ignominiosamente por un equipo que o tenía chiquitos de 15 años que jugaban 10 veces mejor que nosotros o bien posibles abuelos de más de 50 que le daban flor de cachetadas a la pelota a falta de mejor técnica, pero sin embargo siempre se las arreglaban para ubicar la pelota lejos de nuestro alcance.

Nuestro némesis era el 'equipo de los viejos', compuesto por un grupo de turistas de Buenos Aires y otras ciudades, que se juntaban en Necochea todos los veranos. Aún recuerdo los nombres de muchos de ellos: Eduardo (siempre de gorrita y anteojos), Tito (era enorme y todo peludo), Armando (un gran tipo) y su hermano Máximo, José (un maestro de escuela de -creo- la ciudad de Olavarría)... todos muy buena gente y muy entusiastas para jugar, pero que no tenían mucha idea de cómo pegarle a la pelota. Sin embargo, con mucha persistencia y a veces con el viejo pero efectivo recurso de pelear cada punto hasta la exasperación, nos terminaban ganando (casi) siempre.

Pero como dije, nosotros dábamos espectáculo.

Había dos o tres de nosotros que realmente sabían jugar. Recuerdo a Luis, y más tarde a los hermanos Alejandro y Clarisa, que sí sabían lo que hacían. Luego un grupo que si bien no eran virtuosos no arruinaban los partidos, grupo que incluía a las demás chicas. Después estábamos los jugadores espectáculo, como Juan, mi hermano Guillermo y yo, que nos la pasábamos volando de punta a punta de la cancha, haciendo piruetas extrañas y llenándonos de arena pero raramente ganando o aunque sea salvando un punto.

Por último estaban los que se ocupaban del 'comic relief', Julián y Ricky. Julián nos divertía hasta desconcentrarnos con sus bromas y payasadas (era un tipo realmente muy gracioso) y el fuerte de Ricky eran los 'saques de potencia'. Todo transcurría normalmente hasta que él anunciaba que era el momento de mostrar su arma secreta. Entonces, todos nos apartábamos y observábamos admirados el increíblemente fuerte golpe que le daba a la pelota desde la línea de saque. Cada tanto, uno picaba del otro lado de la cancha y ganábamos el punto con un ace. En el 95% de los casos restantes, la pelota terminaba en el mar (a unos 500 m), en la calle, en pleno centro de Necochea y hasta hubo gente que reportó haber visto llover pelotas de volleyball en la ciudad de Temuco, en la vecina república de Chile.

Conclusión: perdíamos casi todos los partidos y a veces dando vergüenza. Pero volvíamos todos los días, porque... cómo nos divertíamos!

Hubo un año en que con Alejandro y Clarisa organizamos un campeonato de volleyball a fines de Febrero, cuando la gran mayoría de la gente con la que jugábamos habitualmente ya se había ido.

Recuerdo la final, que jugamos un 28 de Febrero a las 3:00 de la tarde, en medio de un diluvio, porque ya al día siguiente nos íbamos todos. Ganamos ese torneo con nuestro equipo (llamado 'Las Borlas') y recuerdo que nos fuimos derechito a las oficinas del diario de Necochea para ver si podían publicar la noticia, porque no-lo-podíamos-creer! :-)

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