Goalkeeper Joao Pedro Coimbra was the latest guest to join James on the Total Waterpolo Podcast, as the newly-signed Partizan keeper had much to say about his fascinating journey and future plans.
The 23-year-old was born in Brazil, and represented his native country in various youth, junior, and senior championships. However, when he was only 15, he made the decision to leave to pursue a career as a professional water polo player. Joao explains:
“I reached out to Barceloneta to ask them what they would think about me coming to join the team. If they thought they could give a chance, so they saw me in this camp, and they liked what they saw, and they called me to come for six months, for the last half of the season. It was fantastic. We won everything with the team. It was great”
It wasn’t without risk and sacrafices, however, for Joao to swap continents chasing his dream. “I had to go to school. I had to do everything that a normal kid would do, just by myself without my parents around, ” Joao explains. “That was one of the biggest sacrifices at the moment, to leave everything behind my friends, family”.
Pedro Coimbra followed the steps of the great Felipe Perrone, who made a near identical journey from Brazil to Barcelona. According to Joao, Perrone was a big help:
“I didn’t get to meet with Perrone since he was playing at JUG at the time when I arrived in Spain, but definitely, from the first moment, he was helping me a lot to feel part of the team, to fit in, the team logistics, the dynamics. After that, going to Novi Beograd and how to establish myself in Serbia, what to expect from all of this. He helped me with my contract obligations. Everything I needed to know, he was there all the time, so he’s a fantastic person in this aspect. Of course, he knows what it takes to go from Brazil to Spain and other countries. It’s a huge deal, so he was prepared to help me with that all the time. That was a huge plus for me.”
With Dani Pinedo opting to continue his playing career for a season more, and with the rise of Unai Aguirre, there wasn’t much playing-time on offer for Joao Pedro to play. Using his links with former national teammate Slobodan Soro, Joao tranfered to Novi Beograd. Joao gave an insight into joining the Novi Beograd project:
“Being there with many players very often comes to the point of the ego of the players. It starts to collide with the water when you have a player who has won so many medals and so many championships, so many prizes. The coach has to control a lot of players, a lot of situations at the same time, which sometimes might not be easy. So, you mix all of that together: players with huge names, huge egos who really want a lot of things and they want to take this leadership role at the same time with the politics, the pressure you have from being a club with so much money, you need to perform, you need to give results. It sometimes can lead to very difficult times inside the club between the players, you know, especially of which we tried all the time to keep the positive mind, keep the positive energy in the locker room, to try to gather ourselves together and go around the situation the most time possible. But it’s overall very hard and you often have situations where you get other clubs rooting against you just because you came out of nowhere and you have a lot of money.”
On the podcast, Joao suggests what is needed for his former team to succeed:
“I think they need more patience. I think that’s the key for everything when you look at clubs like Pro Recco, even Partizan in previous years, clubs like Mladost, which is also a club that was super traditional. They didn’t win the Champions League from day to night. They need time. You need the structure. You need to get a team together. You have to let them know that they have to do their best, they have to give results. But if something goes wrong, it’s okay, it’s part of the process. I think they really tried to do their best, they tried in this aspect, but they also knew that time is money and you can’t lose that much time. So, there are these two sides of the picture. You know, you can’t only expect something to happen in the next few years when you’re already putting in so much money. So, it’s kind of a complicated situation when you find yourself there with so much money in your hands needing a result asap. But, you also need to have patience for that to happen”
Joao reveals on the podcast that until the climate improves in Brazil, he will look for international water polo elsewhere:
“Unfortunately, I don’t feel interested in participating in this project. What they’re building, I don’t see logic, I don’t see a point that will lead to a big perspective. So, for me, that’s very important. I would love with all my heart to represent the colours of my country, but as I told you, if there was a structure, a project, an idea that things were being done properly, which is not the case, and that makes me very sad. So, I have to look for the best option for me. And if it’s to wait a little longer and be lucky enough for a national team to call me, I know it’s a very ambitious idea and a very hard thing to expect, but you never know. So, I just focus on being the best I can.”
You can watch all episodes of the Total Waterpolo Podcast via the Total Waterpolo Youtube channel, or listen on the go on Spotify, and other major streaming services.