Volleyball mourns passing of coaching legend
Cuba's George Lafita was the chief architect behind the success of the national women’s teams in the 80s and 90s and the turn of the century which won gold medals in consecutive Olympic Games at Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 and bronze in Athens 2004. He also treasured consecutive wins at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup in Japan in 1989, 1991, 1995 and 1999, and silver medals at the 1977 and 1985 editions, the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup crown in 1993 and silver in 1997 and two gold and four silver medals at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix.
“Eugenio George will go down as one of the greats of not only volleyball coaching but in volleyball overall,” FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° said. “He was an inspiration to many of the world’s coaches and in an age when the coaching world was embracing technology, he proved that with hard work and dedication success could still be achieved. The thoughts of the entire volleyball family are with his family and the Cuban federation at this time.
“One of the best ways to remember Lafita is by one of his quotes from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing when he said ‘the key to my life is to educate. Through volleyball I did not only make training or won medals, I worked on social development, education, entertainment’.”
George Lafita, who most recently was a member of the FIVB Coaches Commission and President of the NORCECA Technical and Coaches Commissions while still acting as the manager of the CUba women's team as recently as the 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, was presented with the NORCECA Golden Collar Order in January this year in recognition of his work in volleyball in Cuba, NORCECA and around the world.
In his extensive collection of victories in 1987, after the victory at the Pan American Games in Indianapolis, George Lafita received the medal for outstanding coach from the Cuba Commander in Chief Fidel Castro.
Eugenio George’s funeral will take play on Sunday in Havana.
Eugenio George was born in Baracoa, Cuba on March 29, 1933 and began his volleyball career in 1947 at Pepe Barrientos Gymnasium in the Luyano neighborhood in Havana.
As a player he was a member of the Cuban men's national team that took part in the Pan American Games in Mexico City (1955) and Chicago, USA (1959), the Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, Jamaica (1962) and the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in Paris, France (1956).
His coaching career began in 1963 with the Cuban men's junior team, building up the foundation of the men's senior team that won the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1966).
George Laffita took charge of the Women's National Team in 1968 leading the team to an impressive list of honors, which included wins in eight consecutive editions of the Central American and Caribbean Games (1970-1998) and seven Pan American Games titles (1971-1995).
He led the nicknamed " Morenas del Caribe" to three consecutive Olympic Games gold medals in Barcelona, Spain (1992), Atlanta, USA (1996) and Sydney, Australia (2000).
Under the leadership of George Laffita, the Cubans also clinched titles at the FIVB Women's World Championship in Soviet Union (1978), Brazil (1994) and Japan (1998), the FIVB World Cup in Japan (1989, 1991, 1995 and 1999) and the FIVB World Grand Prix in Quezon City, Philippines (1993) and Hong Kong, China (2000).
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