This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Sérgio Lucas. My Level 1 Coaching course Teacher with whom I learnt so much, helping me develop my love for the sport. This time I learnt a few more things I now share with you.
Who is Sergio Lucas?
Sérgio Lucas is a completely normal person.
How did you fell in love for Trampoline Gymnastics?
I started doing gymnastics when I was young, in my hometown, Chamusca. After the sport was over on my club, I played basketball for 14 years. Around 1989, a gentleman named Vitor Varejão, president of Santarém’s Gymnastics Association, started Trampoline Gymnastics in Chamusca and I was back to training, this time already 17 years old. I will never forget Vitor because it is thanks to him that I am in trampolining.
How was your transition from gymnast to coach?
When the sport restarted in 1989, I was a Sports student in one course that no longer exists in secondary school, which gave us the theoretical basis to access a higher education on that subject. At that time, Vitor Varejão had launched a challenge, I would end my studies and then coach the clubs he was in at the time, the “União Desportiva da Chamusca” and “Futebol Club Goleganense” (clubs where unfortunately Trampoline Gymnastics are no longer practiced). So that happened, I attended higher education, the Teachers College of Basic Education, Physical Educations Variant between 1992 and 1996 in Leiria, and during that time I finished the Level 1 and 2 coaching courses before 1996. When I finished the courses I started coaching the Trampoline Classes Vitor had promised. During some seasons I coached and trained at the same time. In 1999 I did my last season as a gymnast, becoming only a coach.
But my career was marked by the experience and challenge Engineer Bruno Graça, President of Sociedade Filarmónica Gualdim Pais, made me in 1999, that helped me get where I am today, as a coach.
Given all your years of experience, benefiting from both points of view (Gymnast and Coach), what makes a good Trampoline Gymnast?
Well, this is not an easy question. First I think that any gymnast has to really like what he does because he will spend many hours in gyms and halls, must obviously have motor availability, then you must be a fairly high disciplined person, with clear goals, organizational skills and dedication in order to combine studies and sport activity. Parental support is essential but, although they are a clear centrepiece, they must know the difference between what it means to be in charge of education, support, collaboration/organization and guidance of the child’s life, and thinking they are in charge of the training process. This may be detrimental to the gymnast and arguably affects the relationship between all the stakeholders in the training process.
Now, being a high performance athlete is completely different matter. For such discipline, sacrifice and ability to work at the limit, they need 10% talent and 90% work. The ability to relinquish to what today are the goals of young people in our contemporary society is not easy, to be able and willing to reconcile life as an athlete with social life is not easy and sometimes, choices and decision making is not too easy as well.
From a gymnast’s point of view I stick with the first sentence – any gymnast has to really like what he does -, because as I was such a poor gymnast, I can’t give any further opinion. Ehehhe
How can you define the “Portuguese School” of Trampolines?
The “Portuguese School”, in my humble opinion, is comprised of learning how to take advantage of the knowledge of the various other schools, no doubt that the influence of the French school was at its base, but Portugal never stood still and continued to evolve taking part on training camps with various world powers of the sport. I vividly remember the first workshops I did, organized by Santarém’s Gymnastics Association with Philippe Labeau, Training Courses organized by the Portuguese Federation of Trampoline and Sports Acrobatics, which invited foreign coaches such as Sue Lawton, who shared their experiences and knowledge, that helped us a lot. Another significant aspect is the training that takes place in Portugal. Coaches, mostly have higher academic education, a high level of theoretical knowledge that combined with the established practice in our coach courses, makes the evolution necessarily obvious.
What has contributed to the increased interest of the world’s market in Portuguese Coaches?
Well, this question is related to the coach’s education, as this is undoubtedly of a very good quality and shows that international results are no accident, but due to amazing training and dedication. But your interview may have also included another question I’ll pose you now, which has contributed to the interest of the Portuguese coaches to work in other countries?
What made you try your luck outside of Portugal?
Well, first of all, the possibility to be in contact with other cultures, other mentalities, I think we have evolved with people, deepen general knowledge has been enriched us culturally and learn from new challenges. What pleases me most is being able to coach full time which would be very difficult in Portugal. After the fact of being in contact with other sporting realities, gives us an ability to understand, compare etc …
What were the biggest differences you found, with regard to our sport in countries where you worked?
Four completely different realities, first was in Australia then Egypt and I am now in Switzerland. Soon there are different between each and Portugal too.
Australia- I’ve been in Tasmania, one small island with a few clubs where the sport is viewed in two different ways: firstly as a physical activity and later as a form of regular and intense practice. All gymnasts have various sporting activities. The high-level sport requires great dedication, which sometimes is not easy to acquire, because it becomes a very expensive sport, since the national championships require airline travel, stay with the with the state team they represent, equipment as leotards, etc, all generally supported by parents.
Egypt – This was probably the greatest adventure I experienced as a coach. I came to Egypt to help prepare African Trampoline Championships, which served as qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games. In Egypt there are 4 clubs with Trampoline Gymnastics, and each one has a trampoline. They have a completely different culture, with a fantastic working ability, even with the conditions they have. This challenge was very positive, because we got the best results ever in the African Championships, and without even having two trampolines to train synchronized achieved a complete mastery in this discipline. Trampoline Gymnastics have been in Egypt for 3 years. The city of Cairo and Alexandria, as well as people with whom I have been will be with me forever in my heart.
Switzerland-I have been working in a regional high level sporting performance center, where goals are set high, and where the style of training is different from what we usually find in a club. One of the key strengths in this country is organization. Everything is planned in advance, which allows me to organize the season differently than I used to do in Portugal, where they often have to change competition’s dates, or evidence of clearance for this international competition or that we only have knowledge too late to plan quietly.
Portugal – I worked in Portugal until 2013, although only for a small part of it. I must say that the clubs, together with the gymnasts and parents, are currently the most important elements of Trampoline Gymnastics in Portugal. The working capacity of the Portuguese gymnasts is a strength and cohesion among the group of the national team is fantastic. The clubs do miracles with the aids they have. It is a pity that the economic and political situation does not allow for greater support to our young athletes. I’m sad that there is no, as there was at a times, international training camps for juniors, which could greatly improve the work and the level of the gymnasts. The school structure is not easy for a high level gymnast. They sometimes end training sessions at 10pm and still have to go home, study etc…. and the next day, at 08:30am, are back in school.
What are the most important moments of your career?
Well I had many memorable moments in my career, one of them was Ana Rente conquering a gold medal in Bulgaria at the European Championship 2004, which coincided with my son’s year of birth and, as such, I will never forget this year. This will forever be linked to someone who always believed in me, Professor Rui Vinagre, national technical director at the time.
Another very important moment, was taking part of the 2010’s “Academie FIG”, on which I got the FIG Brevet, along with coaches Dave Ross, Jose Miguel and my friend Eduardo Mendes. All national representations as national team coach in Portugal, were all important, either by experience or by the life lasting friendships that we create. As coach of the “Sociedade Filarmónica Gualdim Pais” in Tomar, I lived great moments that will be forever connected to me and to everybody who was involved.
What advice can you give to young gymnasts and coaches?
You know how they say, “If advices were good they wouldn’t be given, they would be sold”, but I can leave a message that is one of the most inspiring poem for me and which try to follow in my life: “Be whole in each thing you do. Put all you are in the least you do. ”
Thank you for the opportunity, hugs!