By Toni Alegre, handball player in the Asobal league as a left winger in the first team of CB Puerto Sagunto.
It’s funny sometimes how we discover our passion. And how, with effort and discipline, we can turn it into our profession. In my case, everything started when I was eleven years old in Sagunto, Valencia. I was in sixth grade when at my elementary school, CEIP José Romeu, the handball team was created. With my friends, we encouraged each other until we get into the team in order to spend more time together.
One day, the physical education teacher proposed me to prepare for the tests to enter to the Sports Technical Centre in Cheste, a high-performance centre for elite athletes. It seemed to me like a good idea, so we prepared them and they selected me. And so, suddenly, a new stage in my life began.
At that time, with only 13 years old, I experienced it with joy and fear at the same time. On the one hand, I was very happy to have been selected and to have the opportunity to improve my handball skills but, on the other hand, it was the first time that I was leaving away from my parents for so long and that made me a little afraid.
I remember the first months of being internal in the centre as the hardest. But eventually, I got adapted to the new routine and I got to know other players. With the passage of time, I forged friendships that even today I keep and, thus, surrounded by friends it was easier to come back to Cheste after the weekend.
“At the end of each week,
we had accumulated
eight workouts sessions”
From 13 to 17 years old, I got used to a routine a little different from that of children of my age. The first thing we did every day, after breakfast, was to train for an hour and a half. After the morning training, we only had 30 minutes to shower, change and go to class. In the afternoon, after school, we had two compulsory hours of study with a small break in between. After the study, we returned to train for another hour and a half. Then we had dinner, we had a bit of free time and we went to sleep. And this, day after day.
At the end of each week, we had accumulated eight workouts sessions. Seven of which we did in Cheste and one with our club, in my case in Puerto Sagunto. In addition to the two daily workouts, every weekend we had to play a game, so the number of hours on the track was approximately seventeen hours per week from 13 to 17 years old.
Sportingly I think that those were the most important years of my life. At that time, I learned what handball was really about. Before Cheste, I had not played much handball and my knowledge of this sport was very little. I learned a lot of tactics and individual technique thanks to Marc Madruga, who at that time was in charge of the technical plans and who is currently the technic director of Bewolfish.
“The number of hours
on the track was approximately
seventeen hours per week”
I especially remember the game vision ability that I developed in the centre. I was a short boy to play handball, so I had to be a bit more rascal than the others. A learning that is very useful to me even today. In addition to the technical and tactical skills, at that stage of my life, I acquired habits very different from those of my lifelong friends. In Cheste, I grew up as a person and as a player. Being only a child, I acquired adult habits. With 13 years old, we acquired responsibility and discipline, values that have marked my sporting career.
In Cheste, studies were as or even more important than sports. If you failed some subjects, the following year you could not continue. So, one I developed the ability to combine studies and sports. In our day to day, we had certain compulsory hours designated to study and others to train, so I end up incorporating the responsibility into my routine. Thanks to this, it was easier for me to fulfil the commitment required to be on a handball team during the youth stage. From my experience, with a good daily organization, it is possible to combine studies and sports during those important years at a sporting and academic level.
“I learned a lot of tactics and
thanks to Marc Madruga”
From my four years in Cheste, I have very nice memories. For me, the best thing about Cheste was having been able to meet wonderful people with whom we are still in contact today. But not everything was positive. Looking back, I would say that I experienced two bad times in Cheste. One was the farewell of a coach to whom we took a lot of affection since he was our first coach. The other was when this stage came to an end, the day I had to say goodbye to all my friends and colleagues with whom I had lived for four years.
Personally, I think that the experience I lived in Cheste was very beautiful and very useful. All the sacrifice and effort employed in those years have had their reward. Thanks to the responsibility and professionalism that I acquired during those years, and thanks to the discipline and effort that I have maintained throughout my sports career, I have finally been able to turn my dream into reality.
“There are no impossible dreams
that cannot be achieved
with effort and discipline”
With patience and a lot of work, I trained year after year watching as the first club team in my city, Puerto Sagunto, was going up until it reached Asobal league. And I trained myself year after year until I got the chance to play with the first team and made my debut in the Spanish top league, being able to turn my passion into a profession. I will keep working day after day to continue enjoying this sport and to continue progressing as an athlete. There are no impossible dreams that cannot be achieved with effort and discipline.