Wrestling with Cuba’s Wrestling Coaches

Mercedes Gonzalez Aguade

Carlos Adriel

HAVANA TIMES — As I’ve written before, my son practices Greco-Roman wrestling. I’ve shared the difficulties mothers face to acquire the needed sport implements. Today, I want to talk about wrestling coaches.

My son has been practicing the sport for 7 years. I signed him up because he was hyperactive and I thought the sport would give him the focus he lacked and help him channel some of his excess energy.

Luckily, his first coach was someone with extensive experience in the field and, in a very short time, thanks to discipline, perseverance and understanding, my aims and those of my son were fulfilled. The coach brought out the best in the kid. He trusted his potential and taught him to love what he does. You already know the results: Carlitos, my son, was the provincial wrestling champion for several years in a row.

No one knows what happened, but, it so happens that the coach left the sporting facility all of a sudden, abandoning his students. His position has been occupied several times by young people who start out with plenty of enthusiasm and gradually lose interest, making their students, who don’t feel motivated, lose interest as well.

It’s been a very unstable period. The boys have gone through nine trainers, one after the other. Some have had a certain degree of experience, others none at all. Most of them have given up this beautiful career to become security guards (custodians who receive certain perks) or to join the arts world. Some have even become singers (and now earn better salaries).

I’ve been on good terms with all of them and sometimes I even reproach them for not being reliable, as this affects the kids and, therefore, the mothers. My son Carlitos now finds it more difficult to focus and his academic performance has suffered.

If coaches – who do this job professionally or as part of their studies – had some kind of monetary incentive whenever they achieved positive results with their students, fewer of them would leave and we would make better use of the many physical education teachers in our country.

2 thoughts on “Wrestling with Cuba’s Wrestling Coaches

  • You make an interesting point. In Cuba, because “volunteerism” is a State-sponsored activity and used as propaganda known as “Internationalism”, it is seen as a means to an end as opposed to an end unto itself. Even volunteering on one’s own block to do clean-up or organize block parties is seen as an opportunity to put a check beside one’s name in the little notebook the CDR representative maintains on every neighbor. Real altruism seems to be a dead concept in Cuba.

  • It’s a shame your son lost a good coach. Why are there no volunteer coaches in Cuba?

    As a comparison, my 10 year old son plays in three local sports leagues: hockey, soccer and baseball. All of his coaches are volunteers, who give their time because they love the sport and enjoy helping kids. These volunteer coaches devote several hours every week for practices and games. There receive no money for their efforts.

    Some are talented coaches who inspire the young athletes. Others are not so gifted, but they don’t lack enthusiasm. Among the coaches in these leagues, there are school teachers, engineers, lawyers, medical doctors, business managers and tradesmen. The system seems to work quite well, as these leagues have produced winners in city wide, provincial and even national championships.

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