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FIFA/CIES International University Network

Our Coordinator in Colombia introduces himself

CIES has just officially launched its 19th cooperation contract with the Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá and the Colombian Football Federation. As a result, we now take this opportunity to introduce Alvaro Llorente, our Local Coordinator, who is responsible for working with our two Colombian partners to implement the FIFA/CIES International Network Programme in Sports Management.

A few words to introduce yourself?

I come from Bogotá where I have lived since I was born 50 years ago. After studying Industrial Engineering at the Universidad de los Andes, I worked in various sectors such as construction, floriculture and oil for seven years.

As far as sport is concerned, I swam competitively during my childhood and adolescence. I also played football but a serious knee injury ended my 'career'.  Now I run an average of ten kilometres every day. For as long as I can remember, my favourite clubs have been Millonarios and FC Barcelona. I also follow the performances of the 49ers, Lakers and Dodgers.

What are your links to sport?

I have always had a connection with sport, but it has been cemented since I took part in the FIFA Master in 2003/2004. After graduating, I was one of the first people to teach a sports marketing course in Colombian universities. In the meantime, I joined the Universidad de La Sabana as a sports development manager. In this capacity, I saw the challenges that university and grassroot sport was facing in my country.

Through this experience with the university, I learnt what it means to work as a team. I invested a lot of time in university sport networks such as the Cerros Group and the Colombian Association of Universities. In addition, I worked as a sports management and marketing consultant which allowed me to advise entities such as the Bogotá Basketball League, the National Federation of Coffee Producers, Mejía y Asociados, MetroKia and the Archangels Foundation. Finally, I have actively collaborated with the FIFA Master alumni network. Currently, I host a series of FMA (FIFA Master Alumni) webinars for the LATAM region. This is a space where FIFA Master graduates share their experiences and reflect on topics of interest in sport.

What can the FIFA/CIES International Network Programme in Sports Management bring to Colombia and why is it important for the country's sports industry?

Firstly, this Programme can contribute to the further professionalisation of sports management in Colombia. It is part of the FIFA/CIES University Network, which has been in existence for almost 20 years. It brings together 19 universities and more than 5,000 graduates in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe. Thus, those who follow the Programme will benefit from courses given by local professors as well as international lecturers and experts. They will also be able to participate in the FIFA/CIES University Network Award. Upon completion of the Programme, graduates will be able to apply for a FIFA Master scholarship or participate in regional and international forums and events supported by CIES. This shows that the Programme is a cornerstone that will allow sports management professionals in Colombia to learn, exchange and foster their development.

How do you understand your role as a Local CIES Coordinator?

As the CIES Coordinator in Colombia, I work together with my colleagues from the Universidad Sergio Arboleda and the Colombian Football Federation to set up and develop the FIFA/CIES International Programme in Sports Management. My job is to discuss with them the academic and administrative aspects of the programme at all stages: planning, launching, implementation and evaluation. I am in regular contact with the CIES managers to keep them informed of our progress and latest developments. I coordinate with them on day-to-day work with the university and the federation to ensure the success of the programme. It is really a team effort. In addition, if necessary, I bring my experience and my network of professional contacts to facilitate the work of the three partners.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing Colombian sport?

Colombian top-level sport has made great achievements over the last 10 years,  not only in football but also in Olympic and Paralympic competitions, as well as in sports such as cycling, tennis, motor racing, golf and rugby, among others.  At the same time, recreational and grassroots sport has also boomed, in tandem with a steady growth in Colombia's urban population.

Of course, there are challenges and room for improvement. As far as high-level sport is concerned, there is still a lot of work to be done to develop professional leagues in team sports other than football. Professional football itself has to deal with globalisation and regional disparities with countries like Brazil. On the other hand, organised sport must seek formulas to avoid being financially dependent, and to a large extent, on public resources provided by the central government and other public entities at the departmental and municipal level. Finally, we must not ignore the fact that we live in a globalised, highly interconnected world. Thus, in Colombia, administrators who manage sport must understand the complexities of its environment, not only in the country, but also in the Latin American and global contexts.

What is your vision for Colombian sport in 20 years?

My vision of Colombian sport in 20 years is that of an industry that integrates wellness, tourism and entertainment.

Two sportsmen or women that you particularly admire, and why?

Locally, when I was young, I admired Carlos Enrique "La Gambeta" Estrada, a striker for Deportivo Cali, Millonarios and Deportivo Independiente Medellín in the 80s and 90s, later overshadowed by the brilliance of Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama. Many footballers have seduced me in life, among them Maradona, Romario and Messi. But none like La Gambeta. A real star!

On a global level, I admire Tiger Woods. He has broken the stereotype and his level of competitiveness is incredible. Recently, I had a very intense sporting moment when Tiger Woods won the 2019 Augusta Masters after a serious back injury. I hope he returns to the greens after his car accident in 2021 and the legend continues!