Jorge Varela purchases San Pedro Turquoise

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 12            April 3, 2003

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Jorge Varela, new owner of SP Turquoise

Mr. Jorge Varela of San Pedro Town has recently purchased the San Pedro Turquoise Football Club, the island's semi-professional soccer team. Mr. Varela is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Varela Limited, a construction materials company in San Pedro. Also an international businessman, he is the CEO of Technology For Business Corporation, a telecommunications software company in the United States. Mr. Varela was the major sponsor of the San Pedro Turquoise Football Club during the 2002/2003 season, and is now the Club's president.

    Over the past two years, the San Pedro Turquoise team has made much progress. They finished their first season at the bottom of the list of the Belize Premier Football League's twelve teams. In 2002, when the BPFL downsized to eight teams, the island team fought tooth and nail to achieve the eighth spot. Finally, at the end of last season, previous Owner Fully Hoare's dreams of "the top four" came true. The San Pedro team's hard work and perseverance paid off, and the Turquoise advanced to fourth place in the BPFL.

    This week The San Pedro Sun spoke to Jorge Varela regarding his plans for the San Pedro Turquoise Football Club.

Q:  Congratulations on the purchase of the San Pedro Turquoise Football Club. What are your plans for the team?

Varela: Thanks. I'd first like to thank the former owner, Fulgencio Hoare. Without him, we wouldn't have a team in San Pedro today. Our goal is simple: To establish a football club that entertains the fans, provides a source of local pride and a good role model for our youth, is a contributor to sports and social programs in the community, and one that provides a real value to sponsors. Of course, a part of our long-term goal is to win a championship within three years.

Q: How did you get involved with the team?

Varela: As you know, last season I was a major sponsor of the team. At the end of the season, Fully decided he couldn't continue any further and started looking for a buyer. A number of serious San Pedro football fans came to me and asked that I take it over. My initial answer was, "No way!" When it became apparent that investors were interested in buying the franchise and moving it from the island, I decided I had to help keep the team in San Pedro. Of course there were some conditions - I needed some key advisors to help. Once I got those individuals to commit to the team, I decided to take the chance.

Q: Who are these key advisors?

Varela: Key among them is Raul "Coco" Gonzalez. Coco accepted the General Manager's position. I have to say that if Coco had not accepted, I never would have gotten involved. Another key advisor is Chapin Jurado. Chapin is a part of the coach and player selection team. A number of other individuals - Roberto "Capo" Canul, Armando Graniel, Palmiro Sandoval, and a number of prominent players all helped to convince me to take over the team and offered their assistance.

Q: Who is the coach?

Varela: We're not sure yet. We've looked at a number of possible solutions. We've invited Adilio Gomez, whose contract with a Mexican League expires in 15 days, to "try-out" by leading us in the upcoming "knockout" tournament scheduled to start April 26th. Adilio has coached in Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, and he coached the Belize Durley's Team to a championship season a few years back.

Q. What is the knock-out tournament?

Varela: It's a six-week tournament that allows us to study our players and sign them for long-term contracts. Our first two games are against Fabro's Juventus, first in San Pedro and then in Orange Walk. If we win against them we advance in the tournament. If we lose, we will probably schedule a few other games to warm up for the regular season, which begins in August.

Q. Are any key players signed yet?

Varela: We've got a number of big-name players that have approached us, but we haven't signed anyone yet. We're cautious. One of the things we're doing is signing some multi-year contracts. When you commit to paying someone for more than one year, you want to be sure of your decision. In addition, we're asking more of our players than other clubs demand. Part of our goal is community service. We are hoping to have our players coach a Youth Football League as a condition of their salary.

Q. What are some of the obstacles you see facing the team?

Varela: Sponsorship is a big one. We need sponsorship to make the team succeed; there is no way we can make enough money from ticket sales to pay salaries and travel expenses. We are the only team that has huge travel expenses for half of our games; that's the reason why the other investors were planning to move the team off of the island. The second largest obstacle is the stadium itself. The stadium has no fence to control whether people enter and about 25% of the fans don't pay to get in. Even if we did have a fence, we have seating for less than 500 individuals - other stadiums have seats for over 2000. Then there are the other areas of disrepair: the field, the restraining fence, lack of a club house. We have contacted the San Pedro Town Council and Area Representative Manuel Heredia for assistance, and the Belize Premier Football League has also spoken to Francis Fonseca. We hope to have these problems solved before the regular season starts.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Varela: I'd like to invite players to try out for the team starting this Tuesday (April 8th) at the football field (Ambergris Stadium) or to contact Coco Gonzalez. Also, anyone interested in being a sponsor, a donor, or somehow assisting the team should contact me at 226-2215.
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