Javier Martinez will never forget the night of December 14, 2018. The team under his leadership, Vipsers SC, from Uganda, has been called up at Mohamed Hamlaoui Stadium, in Constantine, Algeria, to face the first chapter of a confrontation before the group stage of the CAF Champions League. The atmosphere was a gunpowder box. The party was not a war, but it looked like it was. “The Algerians live for football. We didn’t travel until I was actually receiving messages from the Constantine fans. They checked my phone number and my social networks. They started sharing a long time ago.” Remember Martinez, the first Mexican coach to head the CAF Champions League team, in an interview with AS.
“When we were going to transfer from the hotel to the stadium, we were accompanied by three SWAT commando trucks and the police. There were 10 buses, six in front of us and four behind. They opened the way for you in Africa an hour ago, but that day the tracks stopped us. The policemen got out of their cars and signaled the fans. It was an amazing sight. ”Whoever witnessed, side by side with football, recounts the benefits, humiliation and divisions in Africa: the warmth of its people and the oppression of its governments. Passion for the ball, the scars of the past.
The case was a kettle. Red glows. Cries multiplied by the thousands. “I didn’t see anything like that. The stadium wasn’t full because the seats were expensive, but the noise the fans made that night I didn’t hear anywhere.”Martinez was still shivering. Constantine won 1-0 thanks to Bilgilali’s powerful shot in the 14th minute. The ball, midway through the journey, overcame the useless resistance of the Ugandan goalkeeper. In the second leg at St Mary’s Stadium, the Green team doubled the dose (0-2). Vipers SC has lost the $ 1 million CAF bonus to participants in the Champions League group stage. The episode filled the patience of the (little) guidance. “They considered that they had already won the award,” Martinez explains, “but we didn’t have a competitive team like Constantine.” “We were weak. We traveled without three players: two did not get a visa and one was injured. The goalkeeper was hit in the goal and he is my second choice. I had to play with the third goalkeeper. It was a complicated scenario. But the directive procedure was more difficult. They preferred economic conditions over Sports. Then came the separation. “The Mexican coach continues. That trip to Algeria sealed his fate in Uganda.
At 48 years old, ex-footballer Javier Martinez had a full career ahead of him. After the experience in “The Pearl of Africa”, he moved to Rwanda, which is suffering from the Rwanda Genocide. First of all, he began his adventures on the Pachuca High Performance project, joining Cruz Azul’s core forces (Sub 13, Sub 17 and Sub 20) and joining the technical team of the Mexican Army National Team. In 2016, his first chance reached the first division. Guatemala opened the doors for him. “I’ve traveled before and seized the opportunity to do resumes everywhere. After four to five years they called me. It was very difficult. I never had an actor. I hired Sharcha and I was there for four months in a complicated season.”Remember. The following year, the compass turned to Nicaragua. Juventus Managua, a first-division club, requested his services, although Martinez’s leadership relationship was not very fruitful: “We did well in terms of results and performance, but the board’s lack of experience means we terminated the relationship prematurely.”
“There is a lot of repression in Uganda.”
Martinez landed in Uganda in 2018 and ranked the Vipers as one of the strongest teams in the domestic competition. In fact, he did not lose a league match during his tenure, and even won the “Coach of the Month” award in October of that year. The Mexican enjoyed his stay in the country, but was surprised by the strict political control exercised by the regime of Yoweri Museveni over the population; A shocking nod to the dictatorships of Milton Obote and Idi Amin. “People who do not agree with the government are still being repressed. It is something we still see these days in the city center (Kampala, the capital). The repression is immediate whenever there is a demonstration,” he denounced. . The strategist witnessed two specific events: “Once we were late for a game. They called the police to make room for us. There was a demonstration in the street. When we passed by we realized how they hit people with batons, regardless of whether they are children. Women. Youth.” On another occasion, something similar happened and the police fired shots in the air. Sometimes I think I’m lucky that nothing has happened to me. I feel very sad when I see this kind of thing because I can’t give my opinion of being there as a foreigner, ”says Martinez.
“In Rwanda, after the genocide, an impressive change has occurred.”
The coach signed a contract with Rayon Sports Club, Rwanda, on September 21, 2019. “ Les Bleus ” is the second most winning institution in the country, and in fact, it was the mission to endorse the 2018-2019 season championship.. Martínez enjoyed a good starting streak (31 units in 15 matches; they finished third in the general table, one point behind without the captain), but a 2–0 defeat in the National Classic against the Rwandan National Navy, a team attached to the militia, precipitated his dismissal. The club was immersed in the heat of revolution. Players suffered shortening and steering was renewed. Martínez paid a floor fee. “The project was going well, but there was a lot of disorganization after that. Plus, the epidemic was coming,” he says. He left Rwanda in time to return to Mexico and settled in Hidalgo, where he lived in quarantine: “It was the best thing I could do. Being there wouldn’t protect me like they are here.”
Martinez said that the deep wounds of the horrific 1994 genocide of Tutsis are slowly healing in Rwanda. The country has learned to forgive itself and has chosen to look forward to a wonderful future. A remarkable future, yes, with the iron pointer by Paul Kagame, the greatest leader of a nation yet to reach democracy. “An impressive change came. Now, Rwanda is very attractive to investors. Kigali (the capital) is a very beautiful city, very clean and very organized. The Qataris take a lot of money to Rwanda because whatever you throw on that land, as they say, will happen. ”, law Project. “On the street there are still people who were harmed in the genocide. They are survivors. They lived a very sad period. They suffered a lot with it and now they are a very friendly country with foreigners,” adds the coach.
Candidate to lead an African team
A few months ago, the Federation of Malawi contacted Javier Martinez. “We didn’t reach an agreement because of a language problem. In Malawi, there are dialects that I needed an interpreter for and they didn’t suggest it. Sometimes they appoint you as a coach and impose on you the physical trainer and assistant; These are the things that usually happen in Africa, ”explains Martinez, preferring not to rush his pace, everything on his own time. “I think I am not ready for a national team yet. But I am ready to have a big hierarchical team that has a chance to become a champion. Then, we will go step by step based on the opportunities available,” the trust.
Meanwhile, Javier Martinez is waiting for the news. One of his goals is to take the helm in Mexican football, but he realizes the difficulty involved, given that his career has developed beyond national borders. “I cannot deny that I have more of a cartel in Africa than it does in Mexico. Everything will depend on what happens next year. Either I unite there, or I come back. I want to earn my name. When the opportunity arises, I will not doubt it. I want it. . I want it “, be honest. “But at the moment, it seems to me that there are more opportunities abroad,” he adds. Martinez intends to finish 2020 with a crew under his responsibility. Clubs from Vietnam, Kosovo and India have already shown interest. The Mexican Dream remains, and Africa always will be. In Uganda and Rwanda, Javier was not next to his family. For them (his wife, Blanca Estella, and their sons Javier and Jonathan), moving was impossible. The choice of the following destination depends on the family factor: “A lot of people think that when you go abroad everything is beautiful. And yes, it is. But the responsibilities are so great. I already know how to deal with that when I go on my own, but there comes a time when you need to see the family. That’s why I hope the opportunity will arise in Mexico. “.