Softball Argentina's biggest names are back on the field and setting their sights on the 2022 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
Mariano Montero and Bruno Motroni were two of the top players on the Argentinian National Team that won the 2019 WBSC Men's Softball World Championship. However, they were not only standouts on the field, but also off the field, taking a leading role on a team that won it all in 2019.
Parana City Sports interviewed Montero and Motroni on the Nafaldo Cargnel Stadium diamond, speaking about the team’s return to training after more than six months of lockdown in the country.
“We were anxious to be training all together again,” said Montero, who was Argentina’s everyday left fielder during the 2019 World Championship. “Our main goal [now] is to defend our title in New Zealand in February 2022, a tournament that was postponed one year because of the pandemic. So we’re starting a new cycle. We must play the Pan American Championship to qualify for the World Cup, so these are our two main goals now.”
Argentina had been under lockdown since March, but on 1 October, national authorities there allowed the country's national sports teams to return to training.
“It was a long time without training...it’s hard to get back in shape after such a long time,” said Motroni. “We’re going step by step to avoid injuries, trying to get fit and slowly increase the intensity. We worked did some home training during the lockdown, and now that we’re allowed to be back on the diamond, we can train in other aspects, too.”
With COVID-19 a factor, Argentina's National Softball Team training sessions are "a bit different now, but essentially it’s the same for us,” said Montero, who scored the game-winning run for Argentina in the top of the 10th frame in the 2019 WBSC World Championship final.
Motroni also reflected on the new situation. “We always must be responsible as part of a team, and much more now with the pandemic...we represent our country, our teams, we’re a role model for a lot of kids so we must be up to the task and be accountable.”
Asked about the 2019 perfect season, winning the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship and the Lima 2019 Pan American Games gold medal, Montero said: “Personally it was a dream come true. Since I was a kid I always dream of playing for the national team and representing my country. Luckily, as time passed by, the dreams came true. It means everything to me, individually and as a part of the team.”
Motroni, who was selected last year WBSC Athlete Representative, agreed with his teammate. “It was a great achievement for us to win to two top prizes, especially being amateur athletes.” Motroni stepped down as team captain after the gold medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, and Montero succeeded him in the leading role.
“It was a difficult decision after ten years,” said the veteran catcher. “I had had it in my mind for a while, but I knew that Mariano could handle the position very well...it’s in good hands now. Now I’m more relaxed, being only a player on the team, so it was a relief for me after winning the World Championship and the gold medal.”
“Bruno set the bar so high,” replied Montero. “I’m very happy to be the Captain now, it was not on my mind, to be honest. But I take it with high responsibility and enthusiasm. Having Bruno on the team is great, he’s great support, always has been, so it makes it easier for me.”