Jamaican athletics coaches for Colombia; Valderrama could visit

By HG HELPS Editor-at-Large

Tuesday, December 17, 2013    

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A senior Colombian diplomat has revealed that his country will benefit from the involvement of Jamaican athletics coaches, in an effort to improve that South American nation's track and field stock.

At the same time, efforts are being made to have retired Colombian World Cup star, Carlos Valderrama come to Jamaica to hold clinics for young footballers during 2014.

William Bush, Deputy Head of Mission at Colombia's Embassy in Kingston, said that the exploits of Jamaica's athletes over the years had whetted the appetite of Colombians for greater performance by their own athletes. With that in mind, the Spanish-speaking nation turned to Jamaica for assistance, what with the achievements of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Veronica Campbell Brown, among others, firmly planted in international sprinting history.

"Next year we will have trainers from Jamaica going to Colombia to train coaches in schools," Bush said.

"Colombia is trying to develop its athletics, beginning at the school level and that is why we have turned to Jamaica for support," Bush said.

Valderrama, Bush said, has already been asked to make himself available for the trip to Jamaica.

"Valderrama is one of our objectives, for him to be here to train youngsters. We want to have clinics for the Jamaican kids," Bush said.

"We are waiting on an answer from Valderrama. He runs his own private company, but he also does work for the Colombian government. We are even acting on a request from your Minister of Foreign Affairs, AJ Nicholson, for us to bring him here," Bush said.

Valderrama, (full name Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio), a former captain of Colombia, is one of that country's highly regarded players in World Cup Finals history.

Known for his high afro-like blonde hairstyle, the talented Valderrama, 52, known in his native land as El Pibe, represented Colombia 111 times, scoring 11 goals.

After a 22-year career in which he played for club teams which included Montpelier in France, Miami Fusion, Tampa Bay Mutiny and Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer (United States), Union Magdalena, Millonarios, Real Valladolid, Atletico Junior and Independiente Medelin, he now serves as a coach at the Clearwater Soccer Academy in Florida.

Colombia's World Cup captain of 1994, an explosive midfielder, was selected in 2004 by football great, Brazilian Pele (real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento) as one of FIFA's best 100 players, to mark the 100th anniversary of world football's governing body.

The native of Santa Marta, a city located along the Caribbean coastline, has a statue erected in his honour in that part of the country.

The man who wore the number 10 jersey for his country, played with some of Colombia's greats, including enigmatic goalkeeper Rene 'El Loco' Higuita, Faustino Asprilla, Freddy Rincon, Lionel Alvarez, Andres Escobar, among others. He died his hair pink last September as part of a breast cancer awareness gesture for the Avon Foundation.

Colombia have qualified as one of the 32 teams for the 2014 World Cup Finals to be hosted by neighbours Brazil, the only country that has won the World Cup five times since action began in 1930.





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