The Lionesses turn 20: Cachito Vigil, the story of the “cagón trainer” and the stamping against the clock in the Jardín Gallery

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The first Argentine shirt with the chosen animal was handmade: it was designed by Inés Arrondo and the DT ran so that everything was in order before the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

There were two days left to travel to New Zealand, where the hockey team was going to prepare before entering the Olympic Village in Sydney 2000. Cachito Vigil had in his hands a figurine of a lioness designed by Inés Arrondo, agreed with the rest of the players and digitized with Margarita, his sister-in-law. Something was bothering him. Then he called Claudia Medici, the team leader. “You can’t, but I’m going to give you a set of reserve jerseys,” he replied.

He gave me 16 t-shirts and I went to the Jardín Gallery, from Florida Street. The man was Oscar and the business, Oscar’s Garden. I remember showing him the logo figure, which I still have, and I said: ‘I have this, will there be a possibility? I need it for tomorrow ‘. The first thing she told me was: ‘No way’. But when I explained the whole story to him, he said: ‘I’ll accompany you, leave it to me but for the day after tomorrow’. I remember calling him three times a day and the day we were traveling I went in the morning and he was still doing it. He showed me one and I couldn’t believe it“, bill a bit 20 years later.

The impossible mission of stamping the shirts of those future Lionesses was coming true before their eyes. But a bit it didn’t stop there. Worried, he began to wonder when they were going to wear that special shirt. Then he saw in the store next door “some neat and colorful T-shirts.” “‘Please give me 18’I asked him. I didn’t even know what I was buying them for. And I went to Oscar and said: ‘Make me these too, please’“, remember.

Delayed by the unexpected decision to print twice as many shirts, Vigil realized on the way to the airport that they were going to help the players to see what was wrong with the lioness on their chest. “I arrived when the team was embarking. In New Zealand I showed them to the coaching staff. When we looked at them, we started crying”, He recalls a bit.

The decision was to give the girls the day off while they prepared the surprise. Medici went to buy some gift bags and they placed a T-shirt and a T-shirt on each one, accompanied by a letter that read: “There are two shirts: one can be used whenever you want and the other can only be used when you go hunting the medal”. They asked for the keys to the rooms and left a bag on each bed.

“When they came back and began to enter the rooms, we locked ourselves up thinking: ‘What will happen to them with the lioness?’. They started screaming and they all went out into the hall. When we opened the door, they were all wearing the t-shirt of the free-time lioness, ”says Vigil. You don’t know what it was: they were tears when we saw them. They had the urge to put it on because they were Lionesses. They hugged and jumped. And Argentina stayed in the room ”.

They didn’t see her again until hours before the game with the Netherlands, when they decided it was time to put on the Las Leonas shirt. 20 years passed.

Sergio Vigil took over the women’s hockey team in December 1997. At the age of 32, there were players older than him. But he had come with a big dream: to leave behind that seventh place in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and make that team a top, consolidated among the four best of every tournament he played.

It did not take long to achieve it. Soon after, his team was fourth in the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht, despite the fact that a virus caused half the squad to fall ill. And the following year, in Brisbane, he repeated his position in the Champions Trophy and won gold at the Pan American Games, establishing himself as the best team on the continent.

But not hanging medals at the other international tournaments – fourth place was repeated at the Amstelveen Champions Trophy, before Sydney 2000 – was uncomfortable. “We had consolidated what we had proposed, but that fourth place hurt“, recognize a bit.

By then, Luis Ciancia, head coach of those selected, had incorporated the psychologist Nelly Giscafré, who in his first meeting with Cachito revealed: “They have a team of lionesses; your team boosts under pressure ”. She was also the one who, in the run-up to the Olympic Games, insisted on “inventing something to get them out of fourth.”

Every month, in every place that I saw him or in every call, he repeated that phrase, that one day a bit he understood what it meant. It was after a series of tests matches in Rosario.

“We were at a table sitting with Jorgelina (Rimoldi), Karina (Masotta), Vanina (Oneto) and their partners. And Andrés, Vanina’s husband, tells me: ‘Imagine that you reach an Olympic podium. How nice it would be if they had a logo, right? ‘ We kept talking and another topic came up. ‘And what logo?’, asked. ‘Something that represents you, that has to do with you’, he told me. It deepened a little more and stayed there, but the phrase of Nelly from ‘you have to invent something to get them out of room’”Shares Vigil.

“We were getting back on the bus, everyone was sleeping and I couldn’t,” he continues. The report of one of the girls came to my head, who had hit me a lot because she said: ‘If I am fourth again, I’d rather be last’. And the other thing that happened to me was the logo. Why did what Vanina’s husband told me make so much sense to me? Until that internal voice of ‘you have to get them out of quarters’ and at that moment it came out of me: ‘You have to invent a coach who is not a cagón’“.

In the midst of that struggle with himself, the phrase that Nelly told him the first day came back to his head and he never repeated. “‘Of course I’m a cagón’, I said to myself. ‘You have a team of lionesses that is strengthened under pressure, we challenged them to be among the first four and the girls delivered. When did you tell them we’re going to play the final and win them all? You never told them ‘. And there the lioness came to me. This is a team of lionesses, it is not a logo. What had to change? The shitty coach. I had to break the structures of this coach and create another one ”, Vigil reinforces.


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