Our interviewee today is a young man from Cali, Department of Valle del Cauca, Republic of Colombia. His name is Rodrigo Satizabal.
Tell me why you decided to move to the U.S.? “To be totally honest, the decision was not mine. My mother thought that we would have a better life here in the United States and my father supported her decision. I was only 13 years old and really did not want to move. At that time, I was thriving as a soccer player. My dream back then was to become a professional player and, at some point, be part of Colombia’s national team. My country of origin is known for its athletes. There are people who say that in most young Colombians, there lives a boxer, cyclist or soccer player. I suppose that mine is a soccer player. I must say that, although soccer is currently a popular sport in the United States, it was not so seventeen years ago when I arrived, so that my dream of being a professional player was interrupted, although not my love for it. I’ve discovered over the years, that there are many ways to succeed in sports and one of them is being a coach. I currently offer my services as a coach for young players who want to improve in the sport and obtain scholarships, play professionally in the future or simply because they enjoy learning about sport.
Do you have credentials that endorse you as a football coach? “Certainly. The credentials I obtained were both in Colombia and here in the United States. Soccer is a sport that requires talent, but also knowledge and, above all, a lot of discipline. A good player is someone who puts his mind, heart and effort into every workout, and behind a player is always his team and his coach. Being a soccer player is not a decision; it is a way of life. Many things must be renounced. In my case, I play to keep myself in shape, so I can give 100 percent to the young people I train.
What do you miss about Colombia? “The family and relaxed attitude. In Colombia, visits are not announced beforehand. Parties are only scheduled when they are in a ballroom; otherwise, parties are over when the last guest leaves. The best excuse to get together is by simply talking. Social events are not the only time you can share with your family because you usually do that all the time. Another thing is that when you have a problem, many people come with a helping hand.
Do you have family here? “My mother lives in Chicago and my sister lives here in Connecticut. I depend on both very much, especially my sister and her family. I have some beautiful nieces that make my life very happy with their stories and questions.
Does your father live in Colombia? “Unfortunately, my dad has already passed, and the truth is that sometimes, it’s hard to believe it. My dad was my friend. I enjoyed talking to him, and he was a great support for me when making important decisions. He always found a way to show me the two sides of a coin to help me decide.
What do you like about the United States? “This is an organized country where institutions work. It is a country with technological development, large infrastructure and security. I am grateful to this country and although, as I said before, it was not my decision to come, it was my decision to stay here. I think that in terms of the work and financially speaking, I am much better here than I would be in Colombia.
What would be your final message be? “Life is like a sport. If you put in a lot of effort and desire, things will come out well and if it does not happen this way, then it’s time to continue training until it comes out as you want.”
María Danniella Gutiérrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before going after her own American Dream and becoming a writer in the United States. mdgutier@gmail.