Valladares: 'I have distributed breads, sold socks, salt, been a taxi driver'

Jose Valladares, head-coach of the Honduras team in the ongoing FIFA Under-17 World Cup, is a man who has risen above the ruins to become the most celebrated coach in his country.

A lucky entry into coaching after Valladares had quit his playing career in 1995, thanks to the initiative by one of his friends, turned out to be life-changing.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

He has seen violence from close quarters, watched his parents struggle due to poverty, heard about his sister’s demise, much before he was born.

Jose Valladares, the coach of the Honduras team in the ongoing FIFA Under-17 World Cup, is a man who has risen above the ruins to become the most celebrated coach in his country.

In the Central American nation, crime is as prevalent as traffic jams in India, so to say. It is reported that cities such as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa have registered homicide rates which are among the highest in the world.

What Honduras has achieved under Valladeres—reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2013 and reaching the CONCACAF u-17 final in 2015—given the circumstances prevailing in the country, a special thanks is due to the master coach. No other team, be it the senior or other age groups have achieved what the country’s u-17 team has done.

“I have distributed breads, sold socks, salt, been a taxi driver. I have done all that. Yes. I come from a poor family. So we had to work hard to make ends meet,” says the 55-year-old to Sportstar in an interview.

“As you know our country has violence, drug addicts and so many other problems, which are typical of our country.”

His poor economic background didn’t deter him from playing football for clubs. “I was working and playing football [for Olympico club],” he said.  Being the eldest of three siblings, it was left to Valladares to support his family.

A lucky entry into coaching after he had quit his playing career in 1995, thanks to the initiative by one of his friends, turned out to be life-changing.

He did quite a few courses and in a matter of seven years became a National-level accredited coach. On his success, Valladares said: “For me, certain qualities are important. Discipline is one of them. I have set an example for several kids. I have fought hard to be where I am,” he said.

Making it to the quarterfinals of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2013 was an accomplishment that Valladares cherishes. “It was a great joy for us. Even the senior team hasn’t qualified for the quarterfinals. It was a dream come true. We got a great reception. The country placed a lot of confidence in us. In 2015, we could not qualify, but we are trying our level best this time,” he said.

He admires former England manager Fabio Capello for the discipline. “I admired his [Capello] great personality and discipline." Discipline, according to the coach, is the single most important thing which can bring success.

And his association with three great coaches of his country, helped him understand the sport and its ethos better. "Carlos Carranza, Ricardo Taylor, and Carlos Padilla Velasquez are wonderful coaches. From these three, I benefited a lot. They were National-level coaches and they gave me the opportunity to work as an assistant coach in their clubs,” he said.

Now, he is keen to coach the Honduras senior team.  “Everyone likes to grow. I, too love it. The National Federation has put a lot of faith in me. Yes, we should always aspire big. If we do not aspire, we will never learn and move far. Yes, I have ambitions to train the senior team,” he said. “People said I was crazy. It was this craziness in me that has helped me reach new heights,” said Valladares.

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