NORCECA presents Golden Collar to Eugenio George
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, January 9, 2014 – Legendary coach Eugenio George Laffita, who led the Cuba Women’s Volleyball Team to three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games, among a collection of titles, was honored with the NORCECA Golden Collar Order on Thursday.
George Laffita, who turns 81 in March and in 2000 was selected by an FIVB Grand Jury as Best Women’s Team Volleyball Coach of the Twentieth Century, received the recognition during a ceremony held at NORCECA Confederation headquarters following the conclusion of the annual meetings of the Sport Organizing Commission.
The decoration was presented by Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, NORCECA President and FIVB First Executive Vice President, accompanied by several members of the Executive Committee and Board of Administration who also took part in the meetings.
"Eugenio George Laffita has been a friend, advisor, and a benchmark for the volleyball world and especially for our America," Marte Hoffiz said.
"I have been asked by the president of the FIVB, Ary Da Silva Graca, to present with Dr. Rafael Lloreda Currea, president of the South American Confederation, this award to a person who has given everything and still is giving everything to volleyball in Cuba and the region," Marte Hoffiz added.
A visibly emotional George Laffita expressed his gratitude on receiving the order.
"I receive this honor with humble and I am glad it has been presented by someone like Cristobal has done so much to raise the NORCECA," said George Laffita. "Also for my friend Lloreda who have shared so many good times."
The Ambassador of Cuba to the Dominican Republic, Alexis Bandrich Vega, attended the ceremony as well as former star player of Cuba Mireya Luis, who played under the tutelage of George Laffita, during his peak years.
Several presidents of National Federations attended the ceremony, including Jesus Perales (Mexico), Nelson Perez (Puerto Rico) , Margaret Graham (Haiti), Ariel Sainz (Cuba), Brian Louisy (Santa Lucia), and Jose Luis Jimenez (Costa Rica).
Also, Marta Centeno (Guatemala), FIVB Vice President and president of AFECAVOL , Musthaque Mohammed, president of CAZOVA and FIVB Board of Administration , Hugh Wong, executive member of FIVB and Tom Pingel, USA.
At the award presentation ceremony also were Dr. Jose Joaquin Puello, president of the Ethics Committee of FIVB and a recognized sport leader in the Americas, as well as former Dominican player Milagros Cabral, who represented the Ministry of Sport of the Dominican Republic.
Eugenio George Laffita 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 member of the Cuban Men’s National Team that took part in the Pan American Games of 1955 in Mexico City (1955) and Chicago, USA (1959), the Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston, Jamaica (1962) and the FIVB 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.
Eugenio’s teams won the volleyball tournament in eight consecutive editions of the Central American and Caribbean Games (1970-1998) and claimed seven Pan American Games titles (1971-1995).
He led the nicknamed “Spectacular Caribbean Browns” 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).
George Laffita is the president of the NORCECA Technical and Coaches Commission and he is a member of the FIVB Coaches Commission.
In 2009, the NORCECA Congress in Antigua, Guatemala voted unanimously to establish the “Eugenio George Laffita Trophy” to the Most Outstanding Coach of the biennial Women’s Continental Championship.