Competing in their first WUGC, Spain is trying to move beyond their Mixed and Beach roots.
June 19, 2016 by Lorcan Murray in Preview with 1 comments
There is a storm building in Europe — spinning in the streets of Salzburg, ploughing across French fields, and lurking in Swedish parks — and it’s heading straight for London. With WUGC nearly upon us, it is time to learn a bit more about some of the men’s teams who will be competing in England next week, squaring off against the best the world has to offer.
Building A New Generation
One of the youngest open squads attending the tournament, the Spanish are still very much in the development stage nationally. The 14th place finish in Copenhagen last year certifies their apprenticeship credentials in Men’s competitions. Typically, the small Spanish ultimate community has focused on the Mixed and Beach divisions. However, London promises an opportunity to indoctrinate a new generation of players into the loving embrace of the sport.
Previously, the vibrant greenness of this Spanish squad would guarantee them a week filled with brutal defeats. This would climax with them enjoying one or two competitive games during the latter stages of the tournament. However, due to the unprecedented size and scope of WUGC 2016, there is fertile ground to be found in the lowlands of London. There shall be fields aplenty in which the Spanish can cultivate their young, eager talent.
A lot of the more experienced players on the Spanish team are journeymen. They are people who have plied their trade across the great expanse of Europe’s fields. Captains Ricardo Marquez Ravelo and Juan Carlos ‘Troy’ Fernandez Troyano have played for various club teams throughout Europe, as well as at home in Spain. Both players have tasted success and defeat in the more established ultimate arenas in Europe. Ricardo has competed at the highest mixed tournaments with Tenerifes Mubidisk and Juan has been to the European club championships with Austria’s Innsiders. They are hoping to use the experience they have gained playing in the upper echelons of the European scene to guide their squad to success at WUGC.
The squad started off with 26 players being invited to a training camp. From these players, a squad of 21 was selected based on individual performances. Out of these 21 players, half of the squad are returning veterans of their Copenhagen campaign. The rest of the squad will get their first taste of international ultimate at the feast awaiting them in London. A small portion of the Spanish squad has been playing for over a decade, primarily in the Mixed division. At the tournament these players will become the pillars around which the Spanish team hope to build its next generation of competitors.
Players To Watch
Ricardo Marquez Ravelo
One of Spain’s most seasoned and reliable receivers, Ravelo has scored points in endzones across the world. His confidence is as infectious as the Macarena. A roaring lion at the heart and head of this squad, Ravelo makes the hard catches look easy and the important ones when it counts.
American born Martin is one of the key gears that keeps Spain’s offense ticking. Coming to the sport via basketball, Martin possesses the athleticism and jump to go get errant disks. More critically on a team dappled with inexperience, he has the timing to reduce such instances to a rarity. When stagnation is a real possibility, it’s players like Martin that keep the offense flowing.
Groess is a multi-tooled handler, the kind that lets people work their way into games while making sure everything stays relatively smooth. His presence on the pitch helps his teammates make the right decisions under pressure while having the opposite effect on opponents. Quick to get the disk and quicker to get rid of it, when Groess hooks up with captain ‘Troy,’ they are difficult to unfasten.
What To Expect
This is Spain’s first appearance at WUGC. It is, inevitably, an education for the majority of the squad in both the challenge and potential that lies in ultimate. A fact the Spanish leadership are aware of. Team captain ‘Troy’ said: “Our goal this year was to make a young team in order to start a new generation of players who could learn from big tournaments early enough. Our goal and approach: learn in each game and take the team as far as possible.” The Spanish understand their place in this tournament, and the opportunity it presents. Before you can teach, you must learn, and for Spanish ultimate, WUGC will be a crash course.
Primarily a Beach and Mixed focused country in the past, the campaigns through the European Championships last year and WUGC this summer represent a new development for Spanish ultimate. This national team is approaching WUGC as a chance to learn and improve. It is important to note that the corporal punishment inflicted on rookie teams in the past has been lessened at this year’s incarnation. There are teams that the Spaniards will be able to fight into the mid-teens with. They have already proven at the Confederations Cup that they can beat the likes of Latvia and Netherlands in close combat. They may not represent a threat to the upper mid-table teams but there are plenty of enemies waiting in London who would be foolish to turn a blind eye to this armada.