BUENOS AIRES - Every time Lisandro Zago runs out to captain Argentina’s hockey 5s team at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics Games, he is fulfilling the destiny of a boy born to play the sport.
“To take the field knowing that if I turn my head and look towards the stands I will see my family and my friends is an amazing feeling,” said Zago, after Argentina showed their power in an 18-0 rout of Vanuatu on Monday.
“The stands were packed, just like the day before when the girls played,” said Zago of the atmosphere at the Youth Olympic Park.
The son of Sabrina Castagneto and Hernan Zago took up hockey when he was six. Both parents played the sport at a high level for Club Ducilo, of Berazategui in the south of Buenos Aires.
Tadeo Marcucci (ARG) in control against Vanuatu in their Pool A hockey 5s match at the Youth Olympic Park (Ivo Gonzalez for OIS/IOC)
Add the fact that Hernan is coach of the women’s national team at Buenos Aires 2018, and that Lisandro’s godfather is Matias Paredes (ARG), and you have an Argentinian hockey dynasty. Paredes played for the full Argentina national team who won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“My godfather gives me a lot of advice,” Zago said of Paredes. “He is always there for me and I really admire him. What they achieved in Rio was like a miracle.”
Aged 13, Zago was selected for training camps for Buenos Aires under-14s, but was eventually dropped. The pain and frustration he felt made him realise how much he cared about the sport, and renewed his determination to succeed.
“I have always imagined big things in hockey (since) I was a little boy,” Zago said. “Me and my teammates are all very young and this is a tremendous experience for us. But to be here and to listen to the Vamos Argentina (Let’s go Argentina) song roaring to the point you can’t hear anything else, it really is something special.”
Click for the full schedule of the hockey5s at 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Click to watch the matches live.