A Vital Goal
At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal outstanding goalless draw against a Poland team containing Lato, Tomaszewski, Deyna and orders, one of I he best amateur sides around, Cuba’s hero in that match was defender Antonio Games, now general secretary of ine Cuba football association (A.F.C).
In his office in the Pedro Marrero stadium, he analyses the future of Cuban football from the point of view of cooperation: “Japan and Korea used to be basebali countries, so was Venezuela But in a few years’ time, football will have overtaken baseball. Each country needs to have its own style and we have to increase the exchange with Venezuela.” The Pedro iviarrera in Havana has seen better days, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed one, its floodlight towers and completely tore down the other one. The storm also blew off the roof of the stand, the rebuilding of which was just being completed. This all costs money. Every year FIFA provides : USD 250,000 for travel and equipment. “We would be very restricted without that assistance but at the same time, it obliges us to take part in all the tournaments. FIFA’s directors have informed us that they are very satisfied with the use that is being made of the money here,” says Garces. A.F.C. vice-president Victor Aragon is more specific: “We need more bate, better pitches and better quality coaches.” Yet help is at hand. First, the Brazilian Ministry of Sport donated some balls and then Spanish club Getafe supplied 1,000 of them, of which three were given to each of Cuba’s 159 municipalities and the rest to sports academies.
From the point of view of coaching and sharing experiences, the Argentinian Cesar Menotti deserves a lot of gratitude: “He has identified With the Cuban Revolution since the 1970s, admires Che and recently made it possible for our national teams to test themselves by going to Argentina to play matches prior to decisive international tournaments,” says A.F.C. president Luis Hernandez. Thanks to Menotti’s mediation the Argentinian department of sport covered the cost of the Cubans’ stay in Buenos Aires Perhaps the most significant contribution conies from modest German second-division club St. Pauli, however. Community work is one of the pillars oi [he Cuban Revolution and the St Pauli players have realised that solidarity can go hand in hand with high-level competition, since 2005 the dub have held their pre-season training in Cuba and carry out work in the community with a group of German fans. The club has also launched the Viva con agua de St. Paul! campaign to raise money for water fountains in Cuban schools, thus scoring a vital goal for the island.