Eugenio George: ever onward to victory
Eugenio George, who passed away on Sunday, aged 81, received a special tribute at the Finals Day of the VIII NORCECA International Beach Volleyball Circuit in San Pedrito Beach, where fans and local organising committee joined in a minute's standing ovation held in his honour.
Eugenio George shared his last days as a mentor working with the NORCECA Volleyball Confederation. He was an inspiration to new generations of volleyball players, who learned a lot from him whether it was on sand or on an indoor court.
In a country - Mexico - where June 1 is a day dedicated to the navy, George could be considered the admiral of modern volleyball. His leadership and revolutionary style were the keys to the birth of the Cuban volleyball school and to his country's success at the Olympic Games.
"Our condolences for such a big loss. We have a mourning feeling," said NORCECA President and FIVB First Executive Vice-President Cristóbal Marté Hoffiz, in a statement earlier this week.
George has left an extraordinary legacy in volleyball and sports. After the successes of the “Morenas of the Caribbean”, the famous generation of Cuban players who seized Olympic medals in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, as well as World Championship titles in 1978, 1994 and 1998, numerous Cuban coaches and specialists traveled around the world to share their knowledge.
In Mexico, many state institutes that work as regional ministries have at least one Cuban sports specialist as part of international exchanges. Norka Latamblet for example, who played with the Olympic teams under George, worked as coach for the volleyball programme of Baja California from 2006 to 2008.
George's support and NORCECA’s vision also combined to develop the Pan American Cup in Mexico, which became an amazing stage for women’s volleyball.
The “Ever onward to victory” motto, which is associated with the image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, could also be applied to the “revolutionary” style which Professor George created and contributed to modern volleyball.
American Football had Vince Lombardi. Basketball had Phil Jackson. Football had Rinus Michels, whose "Total Football" changed the game for ever. In a world where gender equality has become more than just a trend topic, the “Total Volleyball” revolution was first introduced by women's teams in George’s era. The “Morenas of the Caribbean” were the best example of this revolution, spectacular and unrepeatable. As a coach, Eugenio George was ever onward to victory. Now he is ever onward immortal.
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