Though the spotlight is always on the players and coaches at the FIFA World Cup™, the success of any national team at the competition is always founded on the work of many people behind the scenes.
Following Mexico’s historic win over Germany, coach Juan Carlos Osorio earned all kind of compliments for his effective tactical craftiness, though it was not long before the Mexican players were lauding someone else.
“His work has been so important for me,” said striker Raul Jimenez. “I really believe in what he says and does,” added Mexican player Marco Fabian.
The subject of their lavish praise was Imanol Ibarrondo, Mexico’s soccer national team mental coach.
A former player with Spanish club Rayo Vallecano, Ibarrondo’s experience on the pitch and his training have given him the tools to be able to help El Tri on their journey.
He took up his position in 2016, at a delicate time for Mexico: “The team had just suffered a really heavy defeat [a 7-0 loss to Chile at the Copa America]. My job was to re-establish the ties between the players and restore the confidence they needed to compete,” Ibarrondo explained.
Mexico recovered from that setback and managed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, topping the final six-team group in the CONCACAF Zone, at which point Ibarrondo’s role changed. “The work I did after that was more personal and individual in nature,” he added. “I’ve been able to speak with virtually all of the players and support them in their process of growth, development and transformation. It’s been a privilege for me.”
Transforming mindsets nationwide
Ibarrondo believes the win over Germany is the first step to bigger things for Mexico: “There are moments in life when things happen that can break mental barriers.”
“Imagine a ten-year-old child in Mexico watching his first World Cup Game and seeing his national team beat Germany. From now on this kid will see life differently, thinking that anything is possible,” Imanol Ibarrondo said.
Ibarrondo told FIFA official reporter Martín del Palacio: “Confidence involves a number of factors, first comes the personal side of things, believing in yourself. Then comes the confidence on your team-mates. The third factor is believing in the plan, feeling that the plan will help you win, that you will be able to respond to anything during the competition. And the final factor is having confidence in the leader, who brings everything together”.
TYT Newsroom with information from FIFA.com
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