Joan Canellas, against Austria in the 2020 European Championship.Guenther Iby / .
Joan Cañellas (Santa María de Palautordera, Barcelona, 34 years old) exhausts his last cartridges with the national team. After the Games, the great obsession of that wardrobe will decide whether to leave the Hispanics, like Raúl Entrerríos and Viran Morros, or continue a little longer. The trajectory of the left back of the Hungarian Pick Szeged symbolizes the golden age of Spanish handball (winner of six medals, including one world gold and two Europeans) and the miseries of his League, from which he had to “get out of hand” after the sinking of a decade ago. Of all this and the World Cup that awaits in Egypt the group directed by Jordi Ribera expands sincerely in this telephone talk.
Question. They have only played two games together after winning the European one a year ago. With what sensations do they come?
Reply. Just sensations, the year has been weird as hell. We have been able to meet little and now we had two preparation matches against Croatia and only one could be held due to the storm. It is all unknown. For example, in December I only played two games with my team and another with the national team, which is very little. Even the training we have had in Guadalajara [quedaron retenidos por la nieve desde el pasado sábado] They are not of the best quality because in the cold there is a risk of injury.
P. To what extent does being a veteran group influence this scenario?
R. We’ll see. If we win, we’ll say we know what this is about. And, if we lose, we have missed filming. If we have learned something, it is that the conditions have to affect you as little as possible.
P. Has this team reached a point where not hanging a medal is a disappointment?
R. No. The disappointment would be not fighting for the semifinals. What is clear is that, when the successes to which people have become accustomed are not achieved, it will be said that we are older, that we do not serve and that we must retire. We live with it, but luckily things have turned out well in recent years.
P. Are you concerned about these possible comments?
R. No. Otherwise, we would have already quit. When we don’t reach the semifinals, you get hit. It is the history of Spain, it happens in all sports. And it seems that in the minority even more. For four who follow us, many are not very positive. If you ask ten people, they would all make a different list and have their solutions. But, in the end, many give their opinion from ignorance and remain so wide. There are other countries with a less aggressive culture.
“For four people who follow us, many are not very positive”
P. He has played in Germany, Macedonia and now Hungary. Is it different there?
R. In Germany, yes. They are more with the team, you don’t hear whistles. It may also be that in Spain things come to you more through the networks and the media. And in other countries you see them later, you don’t read the newspapers or, since you don’t know the language, you don’t find out anything. Macedonia is like Spain and Hungary, more like Germany.
P. The truth is that this Spain is a successful team.
R. We fight it to the end, we go little by little and we have quality. It is true that we are capable of managing moments of tension. I don’t know if there is a team in the last ten years that has been in more semi-finals. I doubt it. In the last two World Cups we have not arrived, but in the previous ones. There is no other team, I repeat, that has played so many semifinals lately. And those who have been have much more recognition from society and the media than we do.
P. Do you lack recognition?
R. It is obvious. Sometimes people speak with little respect. I am not referring to something individual, but collective, to sport. In Spain handball is not respected as it should. If there had been more recognition, we would be talking about another League.
P. A few days ago, Asobal asked for a financial rescue. What do you think when you read this?
R. I’ve been away for many years. I watch the news, but I’m not on the front line. There is no investment or much will. The economic situation of the country and the world does not help either. I am not going to talk about the government, which has many things, although there are countries that are doing better.
P. When the authorities receive you after a medal, have you ever heard this complaint?
R. Receptions are so controlled and fast that you don’t have time to speak. And, if you do, you have to be politically correct. We athletes are not in charge of saying these things to institutions.
P. Is the national team the only one pulling the Spanish handball bandwagon?
R. Clearly. It is not ideal that there is only that, but, at least, we have it. It is very good to hook people for a week or two to television, or a weekend with a semifinals, but behind there is a lot of work from clubs and federations.
P. So all the tears are justified.
R. People will think that we are always asking. However, it is sad that most of the players have had to go out of their way after having the best league in the world. Now he is more amateur than professional and does not have the interest of society.
“I would like to say that the veterans will be missed, but hopefully not because of the results”
P. What is your approach to the future with the national team? Some of her teammates will leave her after the Games.
R. Last year I thought that after Tokyo I could play a year or two more. But we’ll see how the physical is and it will also be important to continue competing to the fullest on a day-to-day basis. The first thing will be to decide my future at club level. This summer I also had an operation and my daughters are increasingly aware that I am leaving. For this World Cup it is four weeks away from home. That weighs. When your daughter tells you she wants you to go and there are still three weeks to go, it is very hard. So until the Games, butt. Then it will be seen.
P. Will veterans be missed?
R. We will see. I would like to say yes, but hopefully not because of the results.
P. Missing relay?
R. Maybe they will need a few years to be there again. It would be normal because they do not have that experience. I remember that in my first year we finished thirteenth, it was a disaster. And from there up. Of course, the current goalkeepers [Pérez de Vargas y Corrales], which are very important, they have a long way to go.
P. Former player and coach David Davis, from Santa María de Palautordera like you, says that he prefers players who are married and have children. It’s your situation. How do you see it?
R. You focus more on sports, you make a home life. Less and less young people aged 20-22 are reaching the top. And the same is why, because they are thinking more about going out. Today they do not have that motivation to eat the world that other generations had.
P. Do you notice that difference in a wardrobe?
R. I see it in young people, in general. It gives them everything more equal. There is a lot of conformity. People have been given everything and do not value what they have. The youth, in all fields, have settled down. And many of the young people who come are, in part, because they are not like that and, really, they have earned it. But, in general, much more can be demanded of them. Handball has reached a point where you have to be much more professional. Surely, when I was 20 years old, that point of professionalism was not necessary. Just being young was enough. Now you have to wake up.
“I see young people in life in general as conformists, well off”
P. How do you see the resignations of players to this World Cup?
R. That question is difficult. Many surely have decided influenced by their club. If your team, the one that pays you, invites you not to go, you have to listen to him. It would also be bad for those who said no to the World Cup to go to the Games later. I am afraid they will not miss Tokyo.
P. Has it ever crossed your mind not to go to Egypt?
R. No. In the club we have had many cases of covid, and I have not been among them. Luckily, none have been really bad. And that makes us respect the virus, but we are not so afraid of it.
P. He studied Pharmacy and belongs to a family of pharmacists. Does this give you another view of the pandemic?
R. What affects the most are personal experiences. In my family there have been no positives and in my friends, hardly. It has also helped me that my wife works at the university studying the virus and with the vaccination campaign. What has affected me the most is the distance with the family. It has crossed my mind that, if something happened to a person in my family, I still didn’t have time to catch a plane or, even if it did arrive, I couldn’t even see it. The distance for that is very bad.