From Elite Athlete to Children’s Coach: The Journey of Yurisleidis Lupetey

After having interviewed her so many times based on her great results (the only Cuban judoka with a youth, cadet and elite world title, as well as Olympic bronze in Athens 2004), the challenge of this conversation was different. How does Yurisleidis Lupetey take on being a children’s coach? What new experiences is she bringing you? Will we be able to see her one day in the technical team of a national team?

We went to the Los Pinos Community Sports Complex, in Arroyo Naranjo, to look for her. His smile remained the same, and at 57 kilograms he was a past conqueror, but his love for judo was intact, to the point of working five years ago in that facility with the 9-10 and 11-12 year old categories. In total there are around 26 promises, who receive classes from Monday to Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, respectively.

“When I retired in 2012, I spent a year of sports detraining and then I had the opportunity to work with the youth national team. Five girls even went to the World Cup that year. Then I moved away from sports for a while until I started here with many doubts about what it would be like to work with children.

“Today I can tell you that it is a very nice experience because we, who spend so much time in high performance giving results and with so much pressure, sometimes we forget where we came from and the great work that has to be done at the base. Here it is teaching from scratch, but you learn a lot.”

Lupetey takes the opportunity to loosen his judogi and does not stop his testimony. “The most beautiful thing is to see the progress weekly or in a couple of months, that is something inexplicable. And judo is a complicated sport due to the names of the techniques, but wonderful things are achieved when you motivate them, although recruitment is also becoming more and more difficult because new technologies take up a lot of their time.

“We are going to look for talents in schools. There are others who come with their parents because they like sports, martial arts or because they know I am here and they saw a judo competition on television. We have even managed to motivate them through music, since judo requires a lot of coordination. I give them merengue, casino and even reggaeton steps, but that’s how they learn what movement and some postures are.”

The help of parents is essential in the dialogue. Lupetey remembers that, when she was starting out, back in Moa, they gave her a kimono from day one, something that doesn’t happen now. “At this time, parents are an important pillar. They help us when we have to fix the tatami, paint the gym, clean, transport the boys to a competition and of course, they take care of the purchase of the judogi. A beautiful relationship is formed, and we become family. That helps us and motivates the children.

“Last year I had the opportunity to go as a coach from Havana to the National School Games with the 11-12 category. I only had two who were from Arroyo Naranjo, plus the girls who were not directed by me, but I still took care of them and attended to them. We did a gathering and it was a super experience of camaraderie, brotherhood and everything was shared. Most of them are in the EIDE today and are part of your life. They are the children you never think you will have and they mark you forever.”

Despite the experiences and anecdotes she accumulates at the base, I ask her if she wouldn’t like to be a coach of the national team, the one of which she was captain for more than 10 years. Lupetey smiles.

“It may be about working there, but I see it as part of the process. It is nice to transmit experiences to new generations. Every time I can I go through Cerro Pelado and contribute what I can. I encourage the girls, I correct some techniques, etc.

“I’m one of those who spend a lot of time. I have not lost that bond, because Idalis is still there as an athlete and Yalennis Castillo and Ivis Dueñas as coaches, and we are great friends. I would like to be a coach in the future, but it is not something that obsesses me. With the children I see the fruit of my work and I am proud to know that a student of mine is in the EIDE and that perhaps one day he can win something in a World Cup or Olympic Games. If I am honest with you about my work, I have to admit that I did not expect this medal.”

Master in Communication Sciences. Deputy Editorial Director of the Workers Newspaper since 2019. Editor-in-chief of the Sports Editorial since 2007. He has participated in journalistic coverage of the Central American and Caribbean Games, Pan American Games, Olympic Games, Intercontinental Baseball Cup, World Baseball Classic, World Baseball Championships. Judo, among others. Professor at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, in Havana, Cuba.

2024-02-24 10:11:12
#didnt #expect #medal #Workers


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