Carlos Valderrama was not going to miss the opportunity to personally wish his country's women's national team every success ahead of this year's FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™. Colombia's record caps-holder with the unmistakeable hairstyle flew direct from Santa Maria to Bogota for the Local Organising Committee's (LOC) official Welcome Event yesterday.
It was a second high-profile meeting of the day for the Colombian women's squad, who had already welcomed LOC President Steffi Jones to their training session in the capital earlier in the day.
"Women's football in Colombia is a real part of the community," said Jones. "It's no coincidence that the Colombians qualified for the three most important recent international tournaments: the U-17 Women's World Cup in 2008, the U-20 edition in 2010 and now, for the first time, the Women's World Cup. It's great to see a legend of Colombian football like Carlos Valderrama getting so heavily behind women's football."
I'm pleased they have this opportunity to take part in the Women's World Cup in Germany. From my own experience I know that there's nothing better for a footballer than a World Cup.
Valderrama, Colombia's captain at the 1990, 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups™, promotes women's football at his own academy in the country. "I don't see any major technical differences between the women and the men," he said. "Our team showed during the World Cup qualifiers and at the U-20 Women's World Cup that they can play football with just as much skill and technical subtlety.
"I'm pleased they have this opportunity to take part in the Women's World Cup in Germany. From my own experience I know that there's nothing better for a footballer than a World Cup. I believe in our women."
Following in the footsteps of several other international greats, including Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Jan Age Fjortoft (Norway), Patrik Andersson (Sweden), Pavel Pardo (Mexico) and Carlos Alberto (Brazil), Valderrama was appointed by President Jones as the latest FIFA Women's World Cup ambassador for this year's event.
"German football is very popular over here, and not only because of that unforgettable match against Germany at the 1990 World Cup in Milan," said Valderrama. "The Welcome Tour is a great idea which helps build the friendship between our two countries."
A number of prominent guests including General Secretary of the Colombian FA Celina Sierra, German ambassador to Colombia Jurgen Christian Mertens, his American colleague P. Michael McKinley, and the entire Colombian women's national team, as well as coach Ricardo Rozo and goalkeeping legend Oscar Cordoba, made for a great atmosphere at the Welcome Event in Bogota. The evening was rounded off in fitting style as official Germany 2011 mascot Karla Kick appeared with her FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 counterpart to everyone's enjoyment.
President Jones' remaining stops on the official Germany 2011 Welcome Tour are in Washington (28 March) and Pyongyang (2 April).