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Emerson Rodriguez: "Volleyball changed my life"

Emerson Rodriguez (right) representing Venezuela at the FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship Turkey 2013
Lausanne, Switzerland, January 20, 2015 - Venezuela international Emerson Rodriguez, who was part of the South American team's campaign at the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Poland 2014,  sat down to talk about how volleyball has changed his life and helped him to make his family proud.

What was your childhood like?
My day started at 6am. My mom would get up and take me to training. After training and school, I would return home. I often preferred to play basketball or football with my friends rather than do my homework.

When I had free time, I spent it in the street with my friends playing with my broken shoes [laughter] and a little rubber ball, be it baseball, football or basketball. We had a lot of fun, but the best times were at the weekends when the district's volleyball games were played.

What was your life like before you started playing volleyball?
I was going to school and playing with my friends. I spent a lot of time away from home and on the streets... where one sees a great deal. At different times in my life, there were people who offered me drugs and I saw people I knew drawn to a criminal underworld. But volleyball kept me busy all day and the advice of my parents helped me to stay away from all that.

What other sports do you play?
Basketball and baseball.

How did you get started in volleyball?
Initially, I was not interested in the sport. My teacher and head coach Edwar Vegas, however, told me that I could only join the School of Sports Talents in Caracas if I played volleyball, even if I would be able to change sports if I wanted to later.

My first competition, which was at the School Games in the city of Puerto La Cruz, opened my eyes to how much I loved volleyball. In the same year, I joined the capital district's team.

What was playing volleyball like?
Volleyball changed my life and my family's life, because they were afraid that I was asocial and would run into trouble. Comments from my coaches helped me to mature and to achieve the goals I set myself. My family and all those who criticized me are now proud of me.

Volleyball has also made it possible for me to help my family. I want to tell children not to fall into bad ways and not to stop fighting for what they want in life. God will help them to achieve their goals. The most beautiful thing in the world is to make your family proud. I encourage everyone to play volleyball, which is one of the most beautiful sports out there. If they do not like sport, then I advise kids to work hard at school.

For me, my greatest achievement has been to make my family proud. Naturally, I also do all I can to be at my best when I represent Venezuela on a volleyball court.


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