Germán Vargas learned by the hand of N’Kono and Llopis to then be signed as a goalkeeper trainer by Costa Rica’s main club.

Germán Vargas started training almost by chance. It all started in the city of Alajuela, few kilometres from San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The ex-keeper was at his son’s training when he realised that the team’s keepers didn’t have any dedicated trainers. After talking to the club managers, he was offered the chance to do something about it.

From then on ‘Gato’ (the cat) Vargas’ sporting career took off. ‘El Alemán’ (The German), as they called him in Costa Rica, ended up opening his own academy, the AF Katze (cat, in German). 2006 would be a key year for him given he travelled to Barcelona to learn from the best. “I wanted training and a course at Marcet caught my interest. I stayed there for a month and it changed my life”.

“In Costa Rica, practice was centred exclusively around the physical elements of training and technique, namely in aspects like power and coordination”, explains Vargas. “After Marcet, I had a completely different outlook and I started to apply a particular dynamic to what we’d been used to seeing in my country”. The ‘Cat’ refers to a more ‘global’ approach to understanding goalkeeper training, focusing on sessions directly related to real game situation traits like offence, transitioning, etc.

Germán Vargas in Marcet Sports City with Tommy N’Kono (left) y Luis Llopis (right).

During his time at Marcet, Vargas trained under masters like Tommy N’Kono and Luis Llopis. “Learning from them opened doors for me. Especially the one to Deportivo Saprissa”, remembers the ‘Alemán’, that found a place for himself at that very club, one of the best in the country, for the nine years that followed. “I was in charge of training kids between the ages of ten and seventeen. After that they would go on to train with the premiere division group”.

Deportivo Saprissa has brought its fair share of stars to the footballing world like Keylor Navas, Real Madrid’s current goalkeeper. Being Costa Rica’s club with the most titles (33 leagues and eight cups), it’s no surprise that these very merits earned it Concacaf’s Team of the Century, XX. It’s no surprise that Vargas would feel somewhat honoured to be a part of such a prestigious Central American sports institution.

The reality is that Costa Rican football is a contrasted and heterogeneous scene where there is still a large margin for improvement. “In my country there are still a lot of trainers that are akin to the old dynamic that doesn’t stretch itself further than technical and physical education”, comments Vargas. But for every problem there’s a solution: “I recommend that as many trainers from this part of the world as possible dedicate some time to gifting themselves the opportunity of educating themselves at Marcet.

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