• 05/11/2009

Tony Nadal: training in values

Rafa Nadal?s uncle and trainer has taught the Spanish tennis star not only to be a top-class sportsman, but an exceptional person as well. Tony tells ePalco about the values that he has passed on to his nephew and which he talked about at the "What Really Matters" event.
The Valencia Conference Centre was chosen as the venue for the "What Really Matters" event, the first Young People with Values Congress. We spoke to Tony Nadal, Rafa Nadal´s uncle and trainer, who gave us an insight into the Spanish tennis champion.

What does Tony Nadal bring to an event such as this?
I think that all the speakers here today have had some extremely unusual and exceptional experiences. I have simply trained a person who is now a top-class sportsman. I have always tried to pass on to him how I see things and how I feel. We?ve done a job, and we´ve tried to do it as well as possible.

What did you have to say to the young people who heard you talk today?
I believe that society today needs to go back and encourage certain values which are no longer considered important; hard work, perseverance, humility and good manners. Having these values makes it easier for people to achieve their goals in life.

What has your relationship with Rafa been like during the time you have been training him?
I have always emphasised the importance of values when training my nephew as a player and as a person. I encourage him to be disciplined, to respect others and to keep his self-control. I think that?s what has helped to make him into the good, self-effacing person he is today.

What is the most difficult thing about training a top sportsperson?
Even though things might be going very well for you, you?ve got money and you´re successful, you have to be a strong person because things happen to you that you cannot control. A family member might die. Your girlfriend might leave you. And you have to get through it. You need to learn this just as you need to learn how to hit a tennis ball. This is essential if you want to be a happier and better person.

Let?s demystify the hero. How have you managed to shape the champion?
There´s no secret. We always say that there is an element of luck there. But a lot of hard work makes it easier for the luck factor to appear. Our aim has been to work on the mental training as well as the physical training. They are both equally important.

What is the most outstanding thing about Rafa?
What I admire most about him in terms of values is his kindness. He is also a very easy-going person to work with. However, the most amazing thing about him is undoubtedly how he handles the racket.

Finally, what would you change about society so that the values you have mentioned are taken into account?
I would like to see schools, authorities and young people themselves working towards building a better society. I would like to see people going back to showing respect for others and their surroundings. Society has gone downhill fast in this respect in recent years. Order and discipline are important values and young people need to learn about them.

Other speakers at the conference included the journalist Jaume Sanllorente who left behind his comfortable life after experiencing the reality on the streets of India first-hand. He went back to Bombay, prevented the closure of an orphanage and founded the Sonrisas de Bombay (Bombay Smiles) NGO which now helps over 6,000 people on the streets of the city. The other two speakers were Pedro García Aguado and Nando Parrado. Pedro, world waterpolo champion and gold medallist at Atlanta in 1996, explained how he managed to escape from the world of drugs and how he uses his experiences to try to prevent other young people making the same mistakes. Parrado was one of the survivors of the 1972 air crash in the Andes who spent 72 days in the South American mountain range before they were rescued. The film Alive is based on their experiences.