His family was looking for sporting, academic and humane training. Today, Mario García studies a Marketing degree whilst playing for Girona.
2017 has been a historical year for Girona FC. As it has for Mario García Saiz. At the same time, the Catalan club won itself a promotion to the premier division for the first time in its history, the Cantabrian Defender launched himself into Spain’s footballing elite, signing to that very team. Two fruitful trajectories intertwined by destiny.
Mario’s story begins in Santander, his native city. Racing, a renowned Cantabrian club, were quick to notice him. “I first started playing there in the under-11s team and made it to under-15s”, recalls Girona’s defender. That said, many years dressed in the same colours led to a real risk of stagnation.
“Mario was in a very good team, however, a footballer shouldn’t only be aware of his surroundings but, more importantly, aware of his aspirations and where he wants to be”, explains Carlos Rivero, Technical Director of the Marcet High Performance Academy: “In Santander, much like in other cities that size, it can be difficult to progress because a player is not necessarily ever made to leave his comfort zone. To improve, new goals are fundamental and one eventually gets to a point where change is imperative.”
This change is somewhat owed to his family. “He was always very shy and we believed he’d benefit from opening up a little and getting to know other realities”, his mother, Marisa Saiz, remembers. “I started to look for summer camps outside Cantabria and came across Marcet. I just loved what I saw”.
So Mario made his way to Barcelona and took part in the Talent Cup. Fifteen days were enough for the technicians at Marcet to take notice and propose he stay at the High Performance Academy all year round. “Understanding his situation, I knew right away that it would be a process Mario would benefit from”, Rivero adds, proud to see his foresight and previsions come true with Girona’s signing.
Before making it to the Catalan team, the Cantabrian defender was presented with two other opportunities and put in the crosshairs of top division clubs. In autumn 2016, on tour in Madrid, he competed with the likes of Atlético de Madrid, Getafe CF and Rayo Vallecano. At the same time, he also went to tryouts at Real Betis Balompié alongside three other teammates:
Mario’s progression in football was clear of any doubt. Nevertheless, his parents weren’t exclusively on the lookout for athletic growth. They were eager to find a training that could check as both academic and humane. “Our main interest lied in him being able to follow through with his studies and that he be provided with the possibility of coexisting with other cultures and languages”, Antonio García points out. “We believed in this project from the very beginning and everything has come through 100%. That said, it was tough at the start”.
Mario’s father points out the inevitable process of adaptation the scholars at Marcet go through. It’s never easy living in a new city, leaving behind family members and lifelong friends. Specifically, in Mario’s case, there were a couple of aspects that could have made his stay at Barcelona more complicated. In one hand, having to let go of and leave a prestigious club like el Real Racing Club de Santander and, on the other hand, having to adapt to a new position on the pitch.
“Mario arrived as a winger and, the truth is at that time he was giving us more in that position than he would had he been defending”, Rivero clarifies: “But at Marcet we’re not too concerned with immediate results so we believed he’d do better for himself in the long run if he played further back. At first, he had trouble getting used to his new position, but his innate condition was easily molded to suit modern football’s take on the defending position. It was a change made with his future in mind”.
Apparently, a decision well made and it wasn’t long before Mario could prove his worth in amongst the players at Girona, to some extent verified by his goal against FC Barcelona on his debut match with the red and white shirt on:
Today, Mario is still playing in División de Honor, where he competes with teams like RCD Espanyol, RCD Mallorca, and Barça. He’s “very happy” with his life in Girona (city), where he currently studies a Marketing Degree. Football, studies, and values are over and above being the axis of his day to day. Precisely what both him and his family were looking for.