The Confederación Argentina De Hockey (CAH) has announced the welcome return of Luciana Aymar to national squad duties  in  preparation for the World Champions Trophy in Holland at the end of June in Amsterdam.  Last week Luciana , voted world player of the year a record  seven times, re-joined the national squad  under  the direction of coach Carlos “Chapa” Retegui, after their holiday break, meeting at CENARD, Buenos Aires. The full squad are due to travel for further training to Salta, at the Club Popeye, between 1st and 6th of May.

 Luciana,  ( a.k.a.  Lucha –fighter & La Maga – the magician ) drained by a decade of total dedication and personal  sacrifice for the team , took an officially sanctioned  long complete break from playing straight after Las Leonas’s  world cup victory in Rosario last year with the full blessing of the coaching staff and Federation. During that time she could not resist making  various appearances at hockey clubs around the country  to inspire and motivate grass roots players but also has played for her club CEBA , Buenos Aires this season. It seems unlikely that any other player could be seen as so naturally  gifted and such an inspiration that they would be granted a long  well-earned rest by the coaching staff in complete confidence that she would  dovetail readily back into the squad with ease after such a long break from the squad.

Las Leonas coach Carlos “Chapa” Retegui


Luciana, a natural ambassador for the game, has always been modest about her own importance to the national squad and emphasised that its strength is the team spirit where no individual has greater importance. We have heard Carlo Retegui speaking about  Luciana only recently as a player he believes is going to come back more relaxed , after her sabbatical ,stronger and even more effective. But it does seem most likely that she will finally retire from international duties after the 2012 Olympics in London. Right now, the total focus for the entire squad is dedicated hard work and detailed preparation for the defence of their World Champions Trophy 2010  title won in Nottingham last year , beating the mighty Dutch convincingly in the final. I recall coach  Carlos”Chapa” Retegui’s team talk at the first squad training session after the world cup win last year where he declared the team could not be complacent  or rest on their  laurels but would have to work even harder to become an even more effective team force to retain their entitlement to be called the best in the world.

Argentina after their victory at Nottingham World Chmapions Trophy 2010

Under the orders of  Retegui and Alejandro Labonia the dynamic new fitness trainer, Luciana  joined the first practice last Wednesday, but could not actually play due to a facial injury she had picked up  during a recent club game. However ,without any difficulty, she  trained full on , and was on a par with her  peers in the field workouts  at CENARD. “For a month we are monitoring  their physical fitness so that it  is optimal, and Luciana  must quickly  adapt to the pace but also the new way of working we have, ” said Labonia. ” This year we working  differently from previous seasons, and we must be prepared differently. We aim to work hard on  anaerobic, lactic and alactic training exercise without losing ability, ” said Labonia .He formerly also worked as a fitness trainer in the game of grass roots and international rugby as well as  hockey, training, for example, amateur rugby players who wanted to turn professional . Even at his first session by Carlos Retegui’s side last year ,  he had made his own observations and assessments about individual players noting their strengths and skills but also noting key areas which could be worked on to improve  performance and effectiveness even more through work on specific muscle groups, for example , to improve explosive acceleration from a standing start.   It is worth noting that, led by coach, Carlos Retegui, last week also saw  the  setting up for the Champions League, with co-operative  planning between the coaches, nutritionists and doctors.

Luciana "Lucha" "La Maga" Aymar

The world’s champions will be  working between 1st and 6th May in Salta at Club Popeye, one of the top twelve league clubs in the nation with a huge catchment area in the province which also bears the same name.  The club is part of ASH , (Asociación Salteña de Hockey) and ASH has an impressive internet presence, maintains a vibrant Facebook group and regularly publishes professional quality video highlights of top league games through Salta TV on Facebook.  Salta Hockey TV Facebook The Association’s tireless president, Sandra Isola, is also the current Mayor of Salta and treasurer of the CAH and fully understands and endorses the social and other benefits involvement for all ages in hockey brings to the community as a whole. Argentina is a big country of course which has funding implications with teams often  having to travel long distances to compete. The hockey community in Argentina is family based and largely self-funding but is thriving. It has a formidable national development strategy embracing a vibrant youth development system and national initiatives with regard to, for example, high quality training of coaches  and the cascading of knowledge and experience  from the national squad’s technical staff. The CAH has also implemented university degree courses to enhance the quality of national coaching. It appears that having Salta as base away from the capital for the national squad is a part of that national strategy to inspire and encourage  grass roots players  and coach Retegui is passionate about this aspect of his role and the part that he and the squad have to play in this regard.


Amongst the squad are  eleven players who were in the team that took the World Cup in Rosario. Retegui is highly positive about the advances that have been made by the revised of Luciana Aymar squad, with many new young players who quickly been assimilated into the team and  given such a great account of themselves in what has been a punishing series of friendly internationals first in South Africa at the end of last year, then , the two Four Nations friendlies at Mendoza and Rosario  and more recently in New Zealand and Australia The squad will train a full three days and all fly out for Salta  on Sunday May 1st  and will then return to Buenos Aires on Friday, 6th

Las Leonas legendary team spirit

 The full squad is as follows :-

Aymar, Luciana
Barrionuevo, Noel
Rodríguez, Macarena
Sruoga, Daniela
Luchetti, Rosario
Scarone, Mariela
Succi, Belén
Aladro, Laura
D´Elía, Silvina
Kañevsky, Giselle
Merino, Delfina
Carla Dupuy
Martina Cavallero
Natalia Del Frari
Armani, Carolina
Rocío Sánchez Moccia
Sruoga, Josefina
Zuloaga, Victoria
Maccari, Sofía
Werthein, Roberta
Simonassi, Julia
Habif, Florencia
Socino, Mercedes

Technical Staff : Carlos Retegui (coach), William Laudani (Assistant), Santiago Capurro (Assistant), Alejandro Doherty (Assistant), Pablo Fernández (Assistant), Alejandro Labonia (fitness trainer), Lucia Caride (team leader), Claudio Bosco (physiotherapist) Federico Moscariello (medical)

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