Argentina coach Gamarci thrilled for 'extraordinary' experience of Men's Softball World Cup in New Zealand

Argentina coach Gamarci thrilled for 'extraordinary' experience of Men's Softball World Cup in New Zealand
“Being in the top four should be the goal of any team with winning aspirations,” Gamarci said.

Argentina has one of the fastest growing programmes in the world in men's softball, making them perennial contenders in any tournament they compete in. One of the cornerstones that brought phenomenal process to the nation, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the world, is coach Julio Gamarci, who was the guest of WBSC's Spanish-language podcast The Global Game ahead of the WBSC Men's Softball World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.

Gramarci led Argentina, a then winless team on the global stage, to three World Championships - two at the junior level and one at the senior level. On Saturday, the Argentine coach is about to begin his fourth Men's Softball World Cup campaign and title defence against Cuba at Rosedale Park.

"Being in the top four should be the goal of any team with winning aspirations," Gramarci said on his clear goal in mind. "Then the exact play at the right moment will make the difference. We hope to be there again and if we have the chance, we will take advantage and win it all again."

The World Cup in New Zealand has a special meaning for any softball lover for the history and tradition the Black Sox team have in the event. For the 49-year-old tactician, to play on New Zealand diamonds, "is something extraordinary, especially being a team with chances of playing until the last day to win a medal in this place".

"New Zealand is the most iconic team in the softball world. We've always tried to imitate them not only because of their players but also for the team building, cultural heritage and traditions."

A history of success

Every happy ending story in sports has the same blueprint - a huge amount of work behind each success. And a fitting example of this is Team Argentina, who emerged as world champions in 2019.

Gamarci retired after playing at the WBSC Men's Softball World Cup in Saskatoon in 2009. A few months later, he received an offer to start working with the junior national teams, which was the beginning of a long-term process that led to the world title in Prague and a gold medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

He took cue from other Olympic sports in Argentina, like volleyball and basketball, in terms of professionalising softball in his country, "not in terms of money, but in training and preparation as an Olympic or professional athlete," he said.

Two years later, after a young talent recruitment process across the country, regional training centres and the formation of the national team, Argentina won the U-19 Men's Softball World Cup 2012 on home soil. Then repeated its feat of winning the junior world title in 2014.

After winning back-to-back junior titles, Gamarci left his coaching post in the junior team, but was called back to head the senior programme, which presented new challenges.

"It's not the same coaching at the senior level as in the junior level. The process of change and transformation is slower," he explained.

However, the common thread is the same - work ethic. Argentina clinched the World Cup title in 2019, with nine players coming from his junior national team, eight of whom had junior world titles.

"To see these players grow up from teenagers to becoming world champions is all I've worked for as head coach," he said.

"My utopia has always been to change the paradigm of our sport. From being a leisure activity to a sport where we can train and live as professional athletes."