Bárbara Vitantonio and former tennis player Martín Vasallo Argüello, from Cagliari. Photo: Instagram.
That Friday in January 2021, the driver of TyC Sport, Barbara Vitantonioclosed the edition of sports more or less as always: “That was all for today, have a nice weekend, thank you very much for joining us”. But he never came back.
It was his last time on air after 10 years in the sports signal and in front of one of the most emblematic programs of the channel. That same month, a few days before her, she had made the decision about her life: moving to Italy with her husband, the former tennis player. Martin Vassallo Arguelloto start from scratch.
When the camera’s red light went out, Bárbara relaxed and received a hug from her colleagues and technicians, who suggested that she say goodbye in front of the audience but didn’t pay attention. Even today, a year and a half later, and with a new job, anyone who does not know of her departure still writes to him as if she were still on the channel. And the dialogue always ends with the same question: “Where did you go?”
Bárbara was born in San Martín de los Andes 39 years ago; she grew up in Posadas, where she lives her mother and which she calls her home; she has a family in Rosario; She developed her career in Buenos Aires and her sister settled with her grandchildren in Canada: a history of roots in constant motionwhich today has it in Cagliari, a town of 150 thousand inhabitants, the capital of the island of Sardinia.
And from there, in the heart of the Mediterranean, exactly 10,002 kilometers from the capital Misiones, the journalist chatted with Clarione of this new European adventure, which today finds it happily active, following the world paddle circuit. And she also recalled her love story with Vasallo Argüello, “a crush” in the middle of a note, and to which she too is united by the determination not to have children.
“With Martín we started looking for alternatives to have another work and life experience. In 2020 we started to consider other opportunities and the idea was to look towards Europe. The first thing we thought about was Spain , due to a linguistic problem, but like Martín Because of his past as a tennis player, he had other contacts, made phone calls and the opportunity presented itself to go to Cagliari. He asked me and I said “this is it”. It took me a minute to make the decision, I traveled without workremembers Barbara.
How did that decision to leave come about?
-At a certain point we got the idea, we didn’t leave angry with the country or out of economic necessity, but rather we were looking for a change, to try a new experience. In Buenos Aires I felt I had completed an internship in TyC Sports, it was a school and I learned a lot but I had completed an internship. And with Martín we agreed that the first who got something would go. And so it happened. I arrived in Italy without speaking a word of Italian and we went to build a life. We already had citizenship, which made it easier for us to get there. Even if the adaptation was complicated, because we started in the middle of a pandemic.
Bárbara met Vasallo Argüello in a note: she was a journalist and he was in the top 100 in the ATP rankings for many years and played in the Davis Cup for Argentina before his retirement in 2011.
“We were on the terrace of what is now the Racket Club, old Vilas. Martín had just retired. It was a crush, we quickly started dating and we have been married for three years. We got married at BALTC, above the tennis court, literally. We did the civilian there, it was very intimate. We thought it was a wonderful place, they offered us the space and it felt super symbolic. Martín has always been low-key, but we liked the idea. Because of my burning passion, I drove a 504 convertible, the only one in Argentina. I picked up Martin in front of the guests and took him to the party. “
-It cost you to overcome that professional barrier with Martín, didn’t you have preconceptions with tennis players?
-Not at all, Martin is a very simple person and we immediately agreed. At the time he was Facundo Bagnis’ coach and he was a little involved in the media, he had his own agenda, so it all came very naturally. He is a very sociable person, to encourage and support you at all times. I drool when I talk about him, he’s a wonderful person. And we also get along on project issues, like this one about travel or the decision not to have children.
When did you decide not to have children?
-I love boys but I’ve always been clear that I didn’t want to be a mother. I’ve been pretty clear about this from the start, we’ve just started dating. My friends kept telling me “how did you tell him so fast”, but he must have known what I was thinking. I made it clear to him that I didn’t want to have children and that if he had that desire, the best thing was not to be together to avoid that conflict. He told me it wasn’t his target of him right now and it was a topic to talk about very seriously. Even when we said we were getting married, they talked again. And we always try to respect what we have said.
– Did that decision affect the timing of this trip to Italy?
-I have always been a woman who tried to be very independent and obviously having a child must be one of the best things in life, but it limits you in other things as well. Martín is also very independent, he has traveled all over the world, so we agreed with the urge to be free to do this, travel and work. The change we made was by choice and not by necessity. I’m not saying it’s impossible with children, but I should have thought twice about it.
Farewell to TyC Sports
“I have great memories of TyC, I shared my life there, I met many people, I made many friends and I lived my best professional moments. I will always be very grateful to the channel, I joined as an intern, I had to leave and then I called again, had fun and learned a lot, “says Bárbara, who graduated as a health and physical activity instructor with Dr. Cormillot before turning to journalism.
-You enjoyed and learned but it is always said that TV is a complicated environment, did you suffer from it?
-TV is a male-dominated environment, especially in TyC Sports, when it comes to inequality of opportunity. They never gave me the opportunity to follow an Olympics or go to a World Cup, for example. It is reality, I must say, and I do it with a little sadness because it is a place that I still love very much today. If they had told me they hadn’t sent me on cover because I wasn’t trained, I would have understood. But the answers were never enough, no one told you anything; and that pissed me off, a lot. And it continues to happen in the big events of the channel. If the most qualified are men, I have no problems, this is not a claim against men. But the reality is that you don’t have an equal opportunity.
How was the last day?
-Many colleagues found out the same day I left. My colleague Cristian Garófalo asked me if I wanted to say something or say hello but I didn’t want to; People don’t care if I go or stay. It’s a job. I preferred not. I said “have a nice weekend” and to this day I always get a message asking me why they don’t see me on TyC Sports or why I left. I didn’t think I was making a story out of it …
-Do you take the memory of any colleague in particular?
-There are many that I would like to highlight but if I have to talk about a good colleague, and a journalist with a career that speaks for itself, I have to name Alejandro Fabbri. I was lucky enough to work with him and drive Sportia, he has always been very respectful and a spectacular colleague. I have made very deep friendships with many people. I didn’t get along with anyone, even though you have less and less affinity with certain people, like any job.
Today’s course is marked by the paddle
So far, in 2022, Bárbara has visited Doha, Rome, Paris, Madrid and a few days ago was in Mendoza. Their stages have to do with the world tour of the Premier Padelthe new circuit supported by the capitals of Qatar that has joined the boom of this sport and is revolutionizing the activity with unforgettable dates and events, such as the possibility of organizing a tournament at Roland Garros or reaching the spectator record in the country with 12 thousand spectators to the land of Cuyo.
Bárbara is responsible for the broadcasts of the tournament, which are broadcast on five continents (in Argentina they are seen on Star +). And it is she who takes the field to do the post-match interviews with the players: recently, in one of these, the Spaniard Paquito Navarro was amazed and closed his statements with a moving “The Malvinas are Argentines!”
“When we arrived in Cagliari we had to do 15 days of quarantine in an apartment we had rented and Martín immediately went to work. I started studying Italian because I knew I had to work. It took me about four months, it was it lasts because due to the pandemic I couldn’t go out to chat or socialize, which is where it’s practiced, ”Bárbara recalls.
Through the Italian Tennis Federation, he accepted a test for the Super Tennis television channel, popular in that region. And one day they asked him if he wanted to have a paddle segment, knowing that thanks to Argentine and Spanish paddles, Castilian dominates that sport. “I had little knowledge but I started investigating and was encouraged; soon I was taking notes to the players after the matches on the air. It was given to me by the TyC school and also by the fact that I am Argentine,” he says.
The future has rooted her in Italy, with more chances of jumping to Roma or AC Milan than returning to Argentina. “We don’t know if Cagliari will be our home forever. Martín is very happy with the club and the people, we are very bribes on everything,” he describes.
She says that many people who want to travel to Italy contact her on Instagram to ask her the details of her experience, at the same time she warns that everything has been facilitated by having the citizenship already elaborated. The hardest part of this adventure will have a separate chapter in November: her mother goes there to give him a hug that has been postponed due to the pandemic and work obligations. “Every day I wake up thinking about that moment …” she says in a broken voice.