Colombian football boosted by “magnificent” new facilities
Heralding a new era for Colombian football development, the brand-new sports headquarters of the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) have been inaugurated in Barranquilla at a ceremony attended by the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino.
The impressive new home of the Colombia national teams will serve as a training base for all of Colombia’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers ahead of the tournament next year in Qatar. The major investment was supported by FIFA Forward funding, and CONMEBOL’s Evolution programme.
President Infantino was joined at the glittering inauguration by the President of the Republic Iván Duque Márquez and CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez, as well as FCF President Ramón Jesurún several other key delegates, including the mayor of Barranquilla, Jaime Pumarejo.
"We are here to celebrate this magnificent sports venue, which is an example of professionalism, an example of emotion, an example of heart for Colombia, for South America and for the world," President Infantino said. "This is an example of what can be done when you believe in football, when you believe in the values of football, and when you work for football. And by working for football, you work for all the people in Colombia."
Guests were welcomed by a colourful group of dancers and musicians for a tour of the new facility, where plaques were unveiled and words of congratulation and thanks exchanged.
"After this time when everyone around the world suffered from the pandemic, and it prevented us last year from hosting the Copa America, where we had contemplated the inauguration of this spectacular venue that we are delivering to Colombia, this moment gives me immense and deep satisfaction," FCF President Jesurún said. "Football survived through effort and pulling together. Here we are, telling all of Colombia that the most important recreational vehicle this nation has is alive, and will continue to live, and fighting for them. We sincerely thank FIFA and President Infantino for their support to build this, our new home."
Comprising three football pitches (two natural grass and one synthetic), three dressing rooms, a gym equipped with the latest technology, teq-ball and tennis courts, wet areas with whirlpool tubs for cryotherapy and heat sessions, a swimming pool designed for recovery, medical recovery areas, games and entertainment area, offices, auditorium for events and press conferences, the new facility boasts the highest-quality innovation throughout.
CONMEBOL President Domínguez congratulated the FCF for having prioritised infrastructure, a lasting contribution to the community, but also said this was a time for prioritising football development. "This facility that is being inaugurated today is important to reduce the gap that exists today with Europe," he said. "But besides working, investing in the right things, in give the necessary conditions, now we need to change the way we think; it is not enough to fight to qualify, we have to go to Qatar and conquer the world."
Among the familiar football faces in the crowd were former Colombian coaches Francisco ‘Pacho’ Maturana and Hernán Darío 'El Bolillo' Gómez, as well as former Colombian national team legends Willington Ortiz, René Higuita, Faryd Mondragón and Arnoldo Iguarán, among others, including national leaders.
"Today we are celebrating football. This beautiful sport, which has majestic values: fair play, team work, discipline, commitment, but also creativity, innovation, and the power to grow up on the shoulder of giants. It fills me with pride to see so many legends, because on top of what those other legends have done that new talents have and will emerge," Colombia President Duque Márquez said.
"I believe today we are also seeing the evolution of leadership. Today, Colombian football, in the house of the national team, is inaugurating this beautiful venue, to tell everybody that if Barranquilla was the house of Colombia before, now is the house forever!," the Colombian President added.