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Christian Patiño: Helping Future Champions

October 6, 2017

By Mario A. Cortez

Former Mexican soccer player Christian Patiño knows what it means to work hard to reach his goals and looks to impart a message of self betterment to youth who need it the most.

Since 2015, Patiño has worked as a coach within soccer academies inside the Mexican government’s Glorias del Deporte youth program, which works with teenagers ages 12 through 16 in at risk communities through soccer programs and academic discipline in order to steer them away from drugs and crime.

“It is a very interesting job in which I have seen all types of stories from youth with many things to share,” Patiño shared with La Prensa San Diego. “They are waiting for one, as an adult and professional athlete, to guide them and show them affection in order for them to develop values to improve their lives from an early age.”

The Glorias del Deporte program, which forms part of the Mexican government’s Subsecretary of Citizen Prevention and Participation and is endorsed by the Mexican Soccer Federation, has the goal of improving the lives of over 8,000 young Mexicans.

Patiño believes that his work can impact the perception of the world that many young people in marginalized communities may have.

“We want these teenagers to know that society accepts them, wants them, and needs them as individuals, and to let them see that through the discipline of soccer they can become professionals in any field,” he shared. “Often times young people believe that the negative things they have experienced are all there is in life, but we want to teach them that whoever wants to be a man or woman of good can be one.”

Patiño divides his time between the Glorias del Deporte academies in the northeastern city of Matamoros and in Tijuana, with the latter receiving a great deal of his attention.

“This is a very cool experience because we, as former players, never thought that we could reach these people in these situations after our careers,” he said of his work in Tijuana.

His example of fighting on and reaching his goals is one which the former striker imparts to his pupils, as he knows first hand what these are like.

In 1992, Patiño left his hometown of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico to try his luck at Cocula Industrial of Mexico’s third division. Against all odds, Patiño fought hard to earn a starting spot on the roster and to stand out on the pitch.

“I gave it a lot of effort and became a starter with Cocula. I played only one season there and was the league’s leading goal scorer,” he recalled. “From there, I was called to the youth Mexican National Team, where Club America scouted me and later invited me to join their great institution.”
The former striker made his top-flight debut with Club America in 1995, at 20 years of age.

Patiño fondly remembers his days in the team’s yellow and blue kits.

“I was able to debut against Toluca at the Azteca Stadium under Marcelo Bielsa as a coach, and I remember that we tied with one goal,” he shared. “That is how my dream of playing in Mexico’s First Division became true and with that I was able to accomplish more objectives as an athlete.”

In 1998, Patiño was transferred to Union de Curtidores of Mexico’s second-tier league, putting an end to his first tenure with Club America. However, he would continue to do his best in order to return to Mexico’s highest league.

“In 1999, I had the chance to win a championship with Union de Curtidores, be the runner up leading goal scorer, and be promoted to first division,” he pointed out. “Next season, I was transferred to La Piedad, also in Mexico’s second tier, where we won a championship, were promoted, and I was also the leading goalscorer with 40 goals in the soccer year.”

Christian Patiño as a Club America player in 2001

In 2001, Patiño went on to defend Club America’s colors for the second time. In this tenure with the eagles, he would reach his most important and cherished achievement.

“Club America had 13 years without a championship and when I returned a lot was demanded of me,” Patiño said. “We had a great roster of professionals for the Verano 2002 tournament, when we accomplished important things.”

Alongside the talents of Adolfo Rios, Pavel Pardo, Duilio Davino, German Villa, and Chilean superstar Ivan Zamorano, among others, Patiño scored important goals in a season in which Club America would be crowned champions for the ninth time in their history.

Patiño still remembers the season’s grand final against Necaxa.

We were all academy players hungry to win, and we had Zamorano teaching us what he had learned after playing in great European teams,” he recalled. “We lost the first leg of the final 2-0. In the second leg, I was able to score the first goal and Zamorano scored the second to tie the aggregate score.”

In stoppage time, Hugo Castillo scored a header, giving Patiño and his teammates the championship they dreamed of.

“Many people remember that championship, it was a very meaningful accomplishment for all of us,” he states.

It is that example from his own life, proof that through hard work once can reach their goals, which Patiño wants to pass on to young people through the Glorias del Deporte program.

“You always have to support youth with the desire to play soccer and to be someone in life,” he concluded. “We have to create new expectations for a better life as a means to push these kids to fulfill their dreams.”

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