Published the 31st January 2023
Felipe Diaz, coach of the Colombian women’s Elite team since 2010, reviewed his selection for the 2023 World Championship in Australia. The Colombian coach talks about his roster and his ambitions for the tournament.
You chose three players who were part of the U24 team in Sheffield in 2019 (Manuela Calle, Michelle Herrera, Laura Arboleda). Why only three and why these three?
Six players who were part of the team in Sheffield have attempted to join. Three were kept in the squad, including one as a reserve (Laura Arboleda). They are selected on their level as well as for what they bring to the game. From 2013 until now, we made sure that the players understand that they can have many roles and different options. Players like Laura or Manuela and other players with a lot of experience have the ability to play different roles even though they are specialised in a certain position.
Some players are present in the Elite since the 2013 World Championship. Is it important for you to have this core ?
We have a core group that I have been training at Club Cardumen since 2010, with players like Natalia Buriticá, Ana Lucia Guevara, Nataly Valencia, who won Colombia’s first medal in 2008 in South Africa (2nd in the Juniors). They are players with a lot of experience like Laura Sofia Moreno and Natalia Perez Doncel who are the oldest and most experienced players in our team. Moreover, they are players who play for the same club. It is very important for me to have a core with the same work methodology. They have come a long way with me and they recognize themselves in our playing style.
The depth of the pool is two metres in Australia. How will this change your playing style ?
Obviously the depth changes the game. In Colombia we have a three-metre deep pool and I prefer because you can divide the three-metre pool into three parts. The playing area, which is more or less one metre deep, a zone where the players can move around and make transitions, and then the last zone where you recover and get back into the water. In a two-metre pool, the movement and transition zone disappears and it is a pool that contains only two parts with the playing area and the exit area. So it’s a much faster hockey, because you go straight into the game once you’re underwater and there are much more bubbles, so visibility is reduced. So we started to train in a two-metre deep pool to see how our playing style should change with this depth. We are trying to adapt, because we know that there will be less space, more bubbles, more pressure, that we will have to move with more speed and take breaks at specific times. We will have to use other alternatives, because we won’t have as much space.
What is the goal of the Colombian team in this World Championship?
Realistically, and considering our history, I think we are coming to a moment where we can believe in the title. I’ve been coaching the Colombian national team for thirteen years. In 2013 we finished fifth in Hungary, fourth in South Africa in 2016 and third in Quebec in 2018. I think we have reached maturity strategically, technically and tactically. For me the most important part of the sport, especially in the way I work, is the mental part. We are stronger mentally, the group is more united and I think it’s time to get closer to this World Championships goal. We continue to work day after day without forgetting our target, but without being obsessed by it. We want to take it step by step and have fun.