Sports Diplomacy: A Cafecito on Cuba and Venezuela.


Last Thursday I was invited as a speaker on YPA’s Sports Diplomacy and empowerment event. A Cafecito with Thomas Goodman, a lawyer and now the executive director of the Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation and Alana Tummino, who is the Executive Director of the organization’s Young Professionals of the Americas network.

I was really honored and excited particularly since I’m a believer and full-on advocate of the power of sports, specifically soccer, and how that power could be used for good in Venezuela at one of the worst crisis in it’s history and the continent’s. Definitely a great opportunity to share my experiences at GOLEADORAS and how we use soccer as a tool for social change.


Sports for development, to create and maximize capabilities that will empower the next generation of leaders with the values and necessary mindset that can foster trans-national links and healthier relations among us all.


Given the topic of the panel I couldn’t but remember all those moments throughout our history when we have witnessed how sports have served as a means for international dialogue. Especially during tense, geopolitical times.

A great example was 1936 Berlin Olympics when Jesse Owens’ 4 gold medals, this impressive success of a black man against the backdrop of Hitler’s Aryan agenda. Times when perhaps a less esteemed nation gained respect from defeating a more powerful country, providing an opening for negotiations. Like it was the case of the 1972 World Chess Championship: Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in the middle of the Cold War. Proof that Soviets did not automatically hold the upper hand in intelligence and intellect over Americans - a notion that emboldened the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. But we also face both, cooperation and conflict.

“Girls with Balls” is a metaphor for ALL relationships where members or parties aren’t on equal footing. The major upsets by underdogs, resulting in hope, respect, and inspiration, not just for the victorious but for anyone who identifies with the winning athlete in any way. Hollywood has a million examples. One that I always reference too; its1973 “Battle of the Sexes”: Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs, a critical juncture for equal gender pay in tennis. Whenever the results of any match come to a surprise, a dialogue ensues, and dialogue is the first step to diplomacy. Where decisions are made focused on a common goal where we all bring our best to the table and as we say at Goleadoras “Together change the game!”

Here are some pictures who the great team at AS/COA shared

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