Hi friends of Goal.com, greetings from Venezuela!
I hope everybody is doing well, and that you are all gearing up for the beginning of the season for most soccer leagues around the world. After a busy summer with all the excitement of the Euros and the Olympics, for a lot of us it is finally soccer time!
Here in San Cristobal, my team, Deportivo Táchira, has just started our full competitive season. Last week, we traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador for the return leg of our matchup vs. Barcelona of Guayaquil in the Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana.
It was a very tough game. Guayaquil is a tough place for visiting teams, and their fans support their team very strongly. Barcelona also has a very strong squad, and they’re in full mid-season form, while we are just getting our legs after the end of preseason. We were never able to find ourselves during the game, and unfortunately got knocked out of the Copa. Hopefully the lessons learned during our trip will come in handy when we face the Venezuelan League and Cup tournaments.
Last Sunday we had our League debut, against Llaneros of Guanare, at our home field of Pueblo Nuevo. It was one of those weird soccer games, where we had much of the run of play, had plenty of good looks at goal, hit two balls right at the woodwork, and only were able to score once.
Llaneros didn’t really threaten us much, but in two counterattacks they were able to catch us off guard and score twice. The final score was 2-1, and we let three points slip away. As a player, you hate losing any games, but especially those that you feel you should’ve won, even more so at home. On the bright side, we saw flashes of the style of soccer we want to play, of the skill that we have as a squad and of our potential. Our roster was turned over extensively from last season. There are a lot of new faces that are still getting to know each other and learning how to play with each other, but we can see in training the quality of the team and it’s only a matter of time before the results start going our way.
While on the field of play the team did not have the best of starts to the season, I wanted to share something that I’ve been working on off the field that did go very well. One of my goals as a professional soccer player is to use whatever visibility I have as a pro athlete to be able to do some philanthropic work, looking to help people that are less fortunate.
This month, in support of the team’s season-ticket drive, I created a program to help a family that usually can’t come to the stadium be able to enjoy the beautiful game in person. The idea was to purchase two season tickets under my name, helping to set a “season ticket culture” within the fans, which is key for the financial health of any professional sports club. Those two season tickets would then be raffled between less fortunate families, and the winner would then get to join the team for the 2012-13 season. The idea was greatly received locally, lots of families signed up, and Deiby Jaimes from San Cristobal was the winner. Deiby and his 4-year-old daughter will be cheering for Deportivo Tachira in the stands for the whole season, and it really was a pleasure to be able to put a smile on Deiby and his daughter's faces. I know that the memories that both dad and daughter will form this year will be with them for a long time. I was very pleased with the local support of this initiative, and hopefully this is the first of many programs. The idea is that in the near future we can establish a foundation with the aim of helping less privileged families and youth through education and athletic programs.
Friends, that’s it for this week. Next blog we’ll be talking some specifics about the goalkeeper position, and what a professional goalkeeper training session looks like.