Felipe Perrone - dedication

We are near the end of the year, a time where we look back at what we have experienced in the course of the last year and we all make plans for the future. On the 13th of December I arrived in Brazil where I met up with the rest of the team players who also had a long journey returning from Europe. On the 15th of December we started training at the Maria Lenk pool, the venue which will hold the first phase of the water polo competition at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Our daily routine was as follows:

7 Breakfast
8-12 Training
13 Lunch
16.45 -19.45 Training
20.30 Dinner
23 Bed time

We rested 24th and 25th, and December 26 we were off to Montenegro to practice in Europe until the 14th of January, after which we will continue our season with the clubs. No one is thrilled with joy about this schedule, especially at this time of the year, but here we are, all members of the national team, once again training and training and training……..

Bernardo Gomes and Gustavo "Grummy" Guimaraes (Brazil national team / Roma Vis Nova and Pallanuoto Trieste, Italy)

A couple of years back Bernardo and "Grummy" had the opportunity to study at some of the best US universities with excellent scholarships. But this possibility was incompatible with the Olympic program.  At the present moment they no longer have access to the same conditions due to some regulatory issues.  For them and their families, the possibility of representing Brazil at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is worth more than this, and therefore they continue to make every effort to be in Rio 2016.

Felipe Silva "Charuto" (Brazilian national team / Lazio Roma, Italy)

"Charuto" was for years combining the university and his work as a physical education teacher with his water polo career. At 31 years of age, his professional career as a teacher has been limited by his dedication to the Olympic program. "Charuto" spent years insisting on being a professional player, unheard of for a Brazilian a few years ago. Now finally he can devote himself 100% to water polo. He is on the road to Rio 2016 and he is able to help his family financially.

Josip Vrlic (Brazilian national team / Jug Dubrovnik)

Josip was born in Rijeka, Croatia, and has never been convoked by the Croatian national team. As the possibility of him being naturalised and playing for Brazil showed up, he chose to accept this challenge. So far Josip had to play against his native country on two occasions and maybe he will have to do it at the Olympics as well. But for Josip this is an opportunity to show his amazing quality and of course support his family financially.

Despite being born in Rio de Janeiro, I always had dual nationality, and have chosen to be player of the Spanish team for 9 years. During this period I've lived many unforgettable professional and personal experiences, and I've built friendships with my team-mates which will last a lifetime. My decision to change my sports nationality was undoubtedly a very difficult one, especially since unfortunately no one knows what will happen with the Brazilian water polo after 2016. But, being born in Rio, I know that the Olympics there will give that sport a magnitude much greater than usually. This is especially true and important in the case of a developing country such as Brazil, where sport is a mean of social cohesion, education and entertainment.

These stories show that there are different reasons which lead us to make the effort to be prepared for the Olympics. And they all have much more to do with emotions than reason. It’s made of many years of training in a sport that increasingly suffers more economically and in popularity. This emotion and commitment are unique to the “crazy” who decide to play a sport so demanding and yet so little acknowledged. During this 20 days of the Olympic Games, where the world turns to every sport, is when every athlete dreams to enjoy and show his best performance after years of full dedication.

Happy 2016

Pictured: Me and the children of the "Polo aquatico do Futuro” program, which I was one of the founders and now ambassador. The program currently includes 100 children in low-income area of Rio de Janeiro.

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