Independiente del Valle is an example of work and training in South American football: it reached the final of the 2016 Copa Libertadores, which it lost against Atlético Nacional. Since then, it hasn’t stopped growing: it won the Copa Sudamericana twice.
(In context: ‘Bombazo’ in Colombian soccer: Ecuadorian millionaire bought a team).
michel dellerThe Ecuadorian businessman who used that miracle and put a sound to the Ecuadorian club in a big way, now lands in Colombia, more precisely in Neiva, where he will try to apply a similar model with Atlético Huila, a team that today is in the relegation zone.
Deller and his Colombian partner, Maruan David Issa (the latter two, their last names), have already started working. David Issa, the club’s new president, told EL TIEMPO his plans and objectives.
What motivated you to work in Colombia?
It all started with a passion for sport. We began to look at why Ecuador was qualifying for all the World Cups and Colombia was not, if there was a matter of fundamentals, of mental strength, of the sports part. And seeing what Independiente del Valle does, we came to Colombia to look for a team, because there is a lot of talent here.
We came to Neiva in October of last year. We got to know the city, we met a great person like Juan Carlos Patarroyo (the president of Huila). I think that Juan Carlos’s way of being was what motivated us to invest: it is a club that does not have a significant debt or bad managerial practice. And here we are, it is a project, a reality, and the idea is to start in the second semester. It’s going to be difficult because of the relegation issue: we have to start as soon as possible to save ourselves.
What attracted you to a team that was in B?
Independiente del Valle was not even in B when it started. When we met Huila, we knew about their needs. What you have to do is bring a training, education, nutrition plan, which are going to be very common words in our lexicon, to create a comprehensive footballer. Both teams, both male and female, will be treated equally. This is going to take time.
How long do you estimate for Huila to start giving results?
Telling you how many years would be lying to you, but the goal is to put Huila on the map of South America.
(Also: This was the accident that ended the life of Angie, former player of Millionaires).
Huila has a serious problem with the stadium. What is the plan to resolve that?
The stadium urgently needs at least basic repairs to compete in the tournament, because our aspiration is to qualify for the home runs. If we get to that point and football accompanies us, we don’t want the team to have to go to Armenia or Ibagué. We want the fans to feel that they can play. That is what we have today. We look forward to the support of the local government. Over time, in the medium term, we will try to have a venue, a stadium, as Independiente del Valle already has.
What is the key point for what is coming, with the mirror of what they do in Ecuador?
The main point is the most important asset of any club: the player. We want to train players with integrity, who come out with an education, who contribute to society and be examples for their community. In Independiente del Valle we have a scouting department and there are already our people here touring the fields.
The descent I appreciate. Is there a crash plan?
Yesterday we talked to the players. You have to try to finish this tournament in the best way, get 6, 7 points. If we win 6, 7 games in a row, we will be calmer to forget about the relegation issue and focus on the octagonal.
JOSE ORLANDO ASCENSIO
Sub-editor of Sports EL TIEMPO