Can Llong, the Astralpool CN Sabadell pool, is hosting the final four of the women’s Champions League today and tomorrow for the fifth time. And for the second time in the 35 editions, two Catalan teams arrive, the hosts hungry for the sixth crown and Assolim CN Mataró, who want to make it big after taking on the champion Olympiacos. In order to meet in tomorrow’s final, they will have to overcome Orrizzonte (4:45 p.m.) and Dunaujvaros (8:00 p.m.) in the semifinals. Gathered by La Vanguardia in Mataró, Anni Espar (30) and Bea Ortiz (28), representatives of their teams, talk about it in this face-to-face.

Two Catalan teams, the leaders of the Spanish League, in the final four.

Anni Espar (CN Mataró): What we are achieving is very good for Catalan water polo, not only to reach the final four, but also for the work of Medi or Terrassa in Europe. Being able to meet in the final would be great. Al Mataró are betting a lot to reach the final four, we didn’t get there, and we have succeeded. And we do it with options to reach the final and be able to compete. It shows all the work that is being done, in terms of quality, sport and investment, to grow water polo.

Bea Ortiz (CN Sabadell): Sabadell has been reaching the final four for many years and it is often not appreciated enough how difficult it is to stay at this level. We are two clubs that are betting on women’s sport and this should also be highly valued.

If they were to meet in the final, it would be the 7th duel this year (3 to 3). A few years ago Sabadell was unbeatable and Mataró has found the trick and won titles (6 in the last four years). What is your opponent good at?

BO: That Mataró bet on the women’s team is very important to have equality in the League, it makes it more complicated for us and thus raises the level of both. Of Mataró, I would highlight the unpredictability: you never know where it will turn out, in every game he brings out something new, he has very complete players, with a lot of level, and it is very difficult to defend them. And they also defend very well.

AE: Sabadell has more than half of the players in the national team, so it has a very powerful bow. And they also have the two best buoys in the world, Maica Garcia and Paula Leiton. Thus it becomes very difficult to defend them with a zone; you have to adapt to it and not let them think.

What is it like to face each other? You have known each other for 14 years, from CAR, you were teammates at Sabadell (2016-2019) and you are friends in the national team.

AE: It happened to me in the Copa de la Reina final, when I was throwing myself into the water: I crossed paths with some of them [from Sabadell] and it was strange for me to see rivals who are colleagues and friends of so much time, with which I get along so much. I love playing with them in the national team; we are one of the most united teams, and we have the best time in and out of the water.

BO: It’s a bit of a disadvantage that we know each other so well. From playing together and commenting on plays, we know our weak points very well, and she can play with that. Anni is very smart. I really like playing with her, but not so much against her because she knows my shortcomings and weaknesses.

AE: Bea’s strong point is pitching; she’s a great player and I have to be on top of her because if you give her time she’ll score.

BO: What I like most about her is that she can go 1,000% and so can I, but we always respect each other. I emphasize his vision of the game and ability to lead the attack. He can score you a goal or give you an assist. You don’t know where it could go.

And something you don’t like?

AE: When he scores a goal for us…

BO: What I don’t like about her is a sign of a good athlete; Anni goes 1000% at all times, win 50 or lose 50.

AE: It’s just that I’m very competitive and sometimes, in a training session, not everyone likes it…

BO: You’re beating us by 7 goals and you still want to win by 25… Shit! It makes me angry, but it can’t bother me because it has to be so competitive.

And where does the good roll come from?

AE: It is true that there is a lot of rivalry between Mataró and Sabadell, but when you reach the national team we are friends. You don’t see this in other teams, where many players don’t speak as well about their teammates as we do about ours. Now I understand why we earn more…

BO: We spend many weeks training together, in the CAR, in concentrations… This is how it becomes more enjoyable, it is better spent in a calm, safe and peaceful environment. Imagine spending three weeks with someone you get along with badly…

AE: I think it is due to the fact that we have experienced it for years with the coaches we have had, such as Nani Guiu, for whom it was very important to team up, or with Miki Oca in the national team, who has always encouraged that there is good roll And it is also our culture. In other selections they are not like that, they complain about everything or are more rude. We respect each other…

BO: When I return to the club I will not speak badly of Anni or anyone else. If we get angry, we talk about it.

The water polo of life…

BO: Most of our life has been given to us by water polo. It is clear that it has taken away our social life, but with time you make up for it.

AE: He gave me everything. The only thing that has taken away from me, for many years of youth, is social life and time with friends. But the trips, the successes, the friendships, the experiences… All because of water polo.

BO: And the values ​​it gives you as a team sport…

AE: Teamwork, commitment, delivery or punctuality… It has been instilled in us since childhood and is already part of our DNA. If I’m 2 minutes late I have a bad time.

Water polo has also been at the forefront of viewing women’s sports.

AE: Yes, but it still costs a lot. It is starting to be seen a little more with football, but there are many other sports. We have many more titles than football and it is still difficult to be valued in the economic or other sense.

BO: There is still a lot to fight for. It seems that everything we have done since 2012 with the Olympic silver until now is not enough. Enough has been achieved for minority sports such as water polo to begin to be valued. I think it’s not appreciated enough.

AE: It’s not so much a question of men being valued more. Look at the boom in women’s football… We would like all the effort that goes into women’s football to be put into other women’s sports where we achieve a lot of success.