NEW YORK (AP) — A Colombian soccer fan who came to the U.S. as a political refugee is creating a training camp for young people in New Mexico with former players from Colombia as the instructors.
David Certain, who owns a coffee company, hopes one day to expand the program in the United States and also take it back to his home country.
Former Philadelphia Union player Carlos Valdés and ex-Colombia midfielder Víctor Pacheco are among those teaching the skills and disciplines of soccer to young people in Albuquerque this week, along with former midfielder Jorge Bolaño and ex-goalkeeper Julián Viafara.
Certain wants to create a physical but also emotional and mental training camp for young people who like to play soccer.
“You see a lot of talent that looks very robotic. We want to focus a lot on the emotional part, so that they can control their emotions a little more and know that, when there are emotions, it is normal”, the 42-year-old Colombian said. “It is totally normal to feel failure when the goal is not scored, but how do you manage the moment after that? After that, a lot of kids get stuck.”
The daily camp, which is the first project of the new Alianza Sports, ends Friday in Albuquerque. New Mexico United forward Devon Sandoval will also be involved.
Certain says he is working with companies to provide scholarships for the camp. Sessions are for 10-14-year-olds and the 15-20 age group.
Certain and his family fled Cali, Colombia, in 1999 after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) tried to kidnap him when he was 19.
Certain had an aunt in New Mexico and, after living in Miami for a while, the family moved to Albuquerque. Certain’s 11-year-old son, who plays soccer, inspired him to create the program.
During work trips to Colombia, Certain was able to contact the former players, some of whom already teach soccer and have helped create the program.
“We are very excited, really, we are very happy with everything that has been happening,” Valdés said from Colombia during a telephone interview. “It has not been an easy job, but I know that everyone who is part of it, and those who will go through this experience, will love it.”
Valdés hopes that young people learn not only soccer techniques but also values such as discipline, respect, tolerance and teamwork.
“Getting involved in something in which everyone must go in the same direction helps develop skills that make you a better person,” Valdés said.
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Claudia Torrens, The Associated Press