Following the recent centenary of the official recognition of this sport in Cuba, online publications (TV Avila and the Invasor newpaper) as well as the national television news reported on the achievement of the boy, who set a record in ball control by bouncing it 2,220 times off of his body in little more than 20 minutes.
It turns out that in Ciego de Avila there even exists a school for ball bouncing (the Escuela Provincial de Toques del Balon, or EPTB). When I saw the TV interview with Fredo de Jesus, I felt a bit frustrated. The teen said he likes soccer, considers himself a fan and confessed that his dream was to play at the World Cup level.
In fact, he said he had fallen in love with soccer during the 2010 World Cup.
However, his current sporting pursuit is ball control, and the adults present in his interview made no secret of their hopes to see Fredo become a star in that sport.
Previously, I touched on the issue in a post 2010, pointing out how Cuba possesses two record holders in bouncing soccer balls in various positions (though unfortunately we don’t have good results on the soccer field).
There are those who insist on the official existence in Cuba of a “school for ball control.” The corresponding records — normally posted in prestigious hotels, of which Fredo’s feat was no exception — are presented as major achievements in Cuban sports.
For me, however, these constitute signs of a curious exoticism that hampers the growing popularity of soccer in our country.
These actions come off as something folkloric, sensational…and frustrating.
Of course, there’s room in the Guinness Book for everything, and the efforts by ball handlers is admirable, but I think that few fans would ever exchange their dream of seeing Cuba in a World Cup event for the satisfaction of the successes of such record holders.
In his interview on Ciego de Avila TV, Fredo confessed: “It’s true that I can control the ball well, but I would like to be playing soccer… I want to be like Messi, otherwise I intend to follow in the footsteps of the Hernandez brothers (Douglas and Erik) in ball handling.”
Isn’t it frustrating to see how adults’ interests shape the destinies of our children?
Which of his two options would give more happiness to Fredo and “ordinary” citizens?
And which seems to fit more into the statistical ruse of bogus accomplishments that is adored so much by both “our” bureaucrats and the mass media?