JPAC: the tournament played by Legends

May 24, 2024

JPAC: the tournament played by Legends

Before a debut with your country senior team, there are several instances that completely form the athlete in question. Going from low to high makes the impact of jumping to high performance more imperceptible. Flowing, with a certain continuity, with gradualness, will make everything natural later on. It is that first tournament that the younger ones (under 21) will remember forever. Maybe there they met each other with the shirt and wore the colors of their flag close to their hearts. Perhaps, that continental championship is the kickoff of a unique career.

The Legends also played it. Luciana Aymar, was present at the JuniorPan American Championships  in Santiago de Chile in 1997. She won, and thus, besides starting to gain experience and displaying her magic, she won her first gold medal with Argentina. That same year, in Korea, she played in the World Championship in the category where they won bronze. The rest is history. Without a doubt, it was the beginning.  

There are stages in any trajectory. Not everyone takes the same path. But the more experience one can add, the better. Currently, this junior competition is held every two years since the World Cup also moved to this interval. Therefore, players can participate in up to three of these tournaments depending on their age.

One of the clearest examples is Abigail Tamer from the US team who participated in the continental tournament in 2021 at the age of 17, then played in the Under-21 World Cup in South Africa in 2022, and in between had her debut with the senior team in the 2022/23 Pro League. At 19, she participated in the last Pan American Junior Cup which was in 2023 in Barbados (it should have been in 2022), where they were crowned with gold after defeating Las Leoncitas in shootouts (4-1 in SO after 1-1 in regular time). As if the experience she accumulated during this time was not enough, she was chosen as the Best Player of that competition. And she didn't stop there. She was selected to be part of the roster for the Pan American Games and the Pre-Olympics where they secured qualification for Paris. The journey matters.

In men's, there are also cases like these. Argentine Matteo Fernández became world champion in India in 2021, then played in the Pan American championship of the category in 2023 - where he also won gold - and played his second Junior World Cup. Now he is part of the Los Leones squad competing against the best in the Pro League.

On July 3rd, the excitement will begin again in the Canadian city of Surrey. In the women's category, the participants will be: Argentina (2nd in the world), United States (7th), Canada (15th), Chile (16th), Uruguay (23rd), and Mexico (39th). For men, there will be Argentina (3rd), the host (14th), Chile (17th), United States (25th), Brazil (31st), and Mexico (44th). Those who finish on the podiums (1st to 3rd) will qualify for the 2025 World Cups with the date and venue yet to be confirmed.

Beyond the pursuit of the goal set by each team, the under-21 tournaments are the path to continue forming better athletes.

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