Gregory Mendes Speaks like what it is, another one from Santa Fe. Every word from you is imbued with this feeling. He was a club player (1994-2000), there he worked as a coach in the secondary divisions. He wears red and white on his skin. However, he knows that the challenge of being Santa Fe’s head coach is a huge one. He wants to confront her in the best way. He wants to help the team in a new resurrection.
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The label surprised him. Last Sunday, he was doing his day job, watching players from small teams, when he got a call from President Eduardo Mendes. He wasn’t expecting it, and he didn’t see it coming, not because he didn’t feel ready but because he thought the team’s situation would improve. He answered the call, received the signal, and the next day he was in charge of the team in the role he dreamed of as head coach.
A week later, his team faces América (6:05pm Win + TV), a special game for this 48-year-old coach who just wants to see Santa Fe on top. He has a lot of work ahead of him, but he’s full of motivation. Talk to EL TIEMPO about all this.
How do you take on such responsibility to be elected coach of Santa Fe at a difficult moment?
It’s divided into two parts, professionally and emotionally: professionally, there’s a challenge to come in and contribute as a coach, I’ve prepared myself and it’s an opportunity I’ve been waiting for, but emotionally, it’s my team, I’m a minor. Divisions There is a crisis and I want to do my best to get out of it.
What challenges and expectations do you have in Santa Fe?
Share challenges and expectations. This is a group with great potential and I have come to make a contribution as a team, because this belongs to everyone and it gives me peace of mind.
Do you feel you will be under a lot of pressure?
There is pressure, but when you look around you feel supported, because there are good players, skills, good workgroup, assistant and partner (Francisco Delgado) who played with me; There is Lider (Preciado, the attacking coach), Juan Carlos Quintero (goalkeeper coach), Mauricio Rodriguez (physical coach), and I know the assistants, I even know the one who fixes the pitch. Before pressing I have confidence and conviction.
How was your path to get to this position?
I retired as a soccer player in 2004, went to the United States, and there coached young girls for a few years; In Colombia, I joined the Academia Compensar. I started with subcategory 13, went up the categories, and took the title in subcategory 17; I was an assistant to Arturo Reyes in the second division and Bernardo Redin. I came to Santa Fe and coached from under 20 to 14 sub, and was invited to the Colombian youth team Arturo Reyes as an assistant, for 3 years; I made a move with Santa Fe Pro with Gerardo (Bedoya), with whom he had a bit of a league role on the national team. For the past two years I have been the Palace Coordinator with the task of structuring the category.
You mentioned Gerardo Bedoya… Aren’t you afraid that the same thing might happen to him?
In life everything is a gamble, it may be alike but never alike, one takes challenges with optimism and gives me confidence that the group is united. And I am from home, my dream is to be here, whatever his role, and now I am an artist, I have conviction and optimism.
Is the group united?
Yes, the group is united, as a player I have experienced bad results and happened to lose confidence, sometimes the competitors are in a better moment, the stronger opponents lose, but there is a difference if there is a union or if there is no, and this team is not broken, it is a great group. They play 11 and everyone wants to be there. I found great respect for myself and my message to them, which is to go forward and reverse the situation.
How do you define this message?
We should all have a great version of us, they should play and feel comfortable and happy, and I want to instill in them, that before going out to play they are comfortable, that they are having fun, and we lack the conviction that the group deserves something more, so much more!
(Read also: Santa Fe begins Gregory Mendes’ reign with Colombia Cup win)
Your debut in the league against Juan Carlos Osorio, what do you think?
With America they are classics, you play them from below, living with the same passion and the essence of the game is maximum interest and intensity. Opportunities came to me in the best way … He is a great challenge, I have a great admiration for him (Osorio), he is very hardworking, a different person who dares to innovate, he is very disciplined, he is very challenging, but I repeat, my strength is not individual, it is the property of everyone.. The message we sent with this team that we put against Bucaramanga is that the best team has to play and the responsibility in every game, that’s what matters most.
To what extent did you feel the audience’s response to your appointment?
As a player I had a good relationship with the fans. At the moment because of football without an audience, like on Thursday, it feels different because I haven’t been able to see that feeling that is Santa Fe, I haven’t yet been able to perceive that connection with the fan, but the important thing is that we are doing our best and let We’re getting better… The message is we’re going forward game by game between all of us, we’re going day in and day out, and that’s how we get over this. In the end, the hierarchy is not the highest organization and team.
The message, the president said, is that we’re pushing it forward game by game between everyone, and we’re going day in and day out, so we’re getting over this.
Regarding President Mendez, his statement sparked controversy when he said he had 300 resumes ready in case things didn’t work out…how did those words fall on him?
It is a statement that it is in his interest to give the best to the organization and that is why he considers the best thing in this moment to be there and that makes me happy. The idea is that we go ahead and if another coach arrives later, welcome back tomorrow. What is important is the common good.
Speaking of football, what failures have you discovered and how do you address them?
Encuentro is a virtue and in the end I think the breaking point might be the emotion and the pressure and the anxiety, I see that, and I see great things left by the previous coaching staff, it’s a proactive group, it’s all together pushing this forward.
Santa Fe de Rivera has been criticized for not having a goal in his final run, how will you enhance that?
The goal of the goal is something all coaches want to discover, it is not easy, there are tasks to be done and we have already done one such as scoring the goal at zero (against Bucaramanga in the Colombian Cup), it is a global issue, to find the goal you also have to be You have a good defense.
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This indicates that your idea is a defensive force…
I want Santa Fe to have defensive behaviours, for Leandro Castellanos to participate less, to prevent them from creating goal actions for us.
In the match against Bucaramanga, it was noted that the team wanted to be aggressive on the mark and try to get possession of the ball. This is the idea?
I’ve seen them get comfortable with the ball and so the first thing is to get it back, which is something we’re trying to do, it’s a very short time to change something, but we see the situation in them and the good things that were before. The coach stayed. The conviction is that the results will support and enhance the game and the tactical variables, we want to have a goal and be aggressive in the brand.
What are the goals set in Santa Fe? Definitely fight important things…
I’m building on the medium term, my future in the next game, goal by goal, in the short term, we’ll see, in the end, is to raise self-confidence, contentment, remove anxiety, and get out of this. Uncomfortable place we are at the table.
EL TIEMPO . Editor
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