Like Marcial, the leading character of “Viaje a la Semilla” (Journey to the Seed), by Alejo Carpentier, Hilarión Ronaldo Vetía Valdivié, nearly aged 70 (Oct. 21, 1947), takes over the double role of main figure and author of what was and remains as his life, judo.
Fortunately to many, especially children, the story does not begin from his death now, quite the opposite, because he increasingly lives to the rhythm of this martial art, and his fans, relatives and friends wish him long life in and out of tatami mats, and he knows so and commits himself.
The true thing is that “The Professor” returns to his home town, Santa María del Rosario (he still lives there), in El Cotorro, where he left and did not stop through a lot of dedication, sacrifice and example until reaching “Cerro Pelado” High Performance Training Center, to become the head coach of the national women’s judo team, which he directed for 30 years and completed 50 years of work.
He exhibits 25 Olympic medals, including 6 golds, and 57 world medals, with 16 golds, as well as many others won by his disciples, the well-known Marianas of General Veitia, at Pan American and Central American Games. He does not forget them not even for a minute and at present takes over El Proyecto Social Comunitario “Primavera” (Social Community Project “Spring”), with children from that Havanan municipality, among them, his granddaughter Lorena de la Caridad Pérez Veitía.
The Professor does not miss the opportunity to offer direct instructions.
The Master in Social Sciences, black belt and 8th dan welcomes the journalist and the photographer from the Cuban News Agency (ACN) with great pride and desire to work for the new generations in order to exchange on his “Journey to the Seed”.
-Was it a debt you had with judo, with children?
I always owe children, because they are the ones who taught me the most in my professional career. If I hadn’t worked with boys and girls I wouldn’t have had such a beautiful vision of life and the pedagogy which I was working with for many years at “Mártires de Barbados” School of Sports Initiation (EIDE).
-Are you still learning after so many successes at top level and so many years of work?
You always learn every day of life, and more so when you teach.
-What do you enjoy most from the project and what is the most difficult?
What I enjoy most is the joy that we can transmit to those kids and young people who develop and learn not only in terms of sports, but also in their educational formation, so they can be better citizens.
-Health, quality of life, first step towards high performance?
All that. The first step towards High Performance is to detect the great child promises and look for them, because the wood that is used to make a violin sounds from the forest, and our pedagogical work should bring out beautiful music for talents.
-Do you still dream of your Marianas or have the little ones occupied their places?
Every love has its space in the heart. If you have several children and love them all, each with his/her characteristics, you love them equally. Prior to the Marianas I had children and young people, and they have loved me very much and I have loved them too. I’ve never forgotten anyone, nor have they forgotten me.
-What do the Marianas say about the project, do they help you?
My Marianas have permeated my life, and they know that invigorates me. They wish me the best with their good backbone, because good disciples never forget you, the indebted ones, those who were able to taking over my daring dreams, were able to ennoble them for the good of our Homeland, the people and their followers, who admire them a lot and not only love them, but praise them for their courage and duality of having made them cry for joy from their results in and out tatami mats.
Like every day, the biginning with the important training session.
Some have come and made the kids I direct very happy when seeing their medals. They are delighted for being able to meet and share with Olympic and world champions. Undoubtedly, that provides the Project and that youth with an extraordinary fresh air.
-Did it come to remain?
Of course, it existed since I was directing the national women’s team, when I used to participate voluntarily in this “Antonio Maceo” judo hall. Now, I have more time and fully involved along with my son René, who is a professor too.
The Project has a very important activity, because it is in a passing through community and helps withdraw the children from idle activities together with our prophylactic work aiding parents and people of good faith. We take into account that well-directed sport is an antidote to overcome vice.
I feel satisfied because we have many parents and grandparents who are doing an extraordinary job to achieve the main aim: the education of those who have come to us to know this sport, which is a martial art and conveys a lot of discipline.
I have a phrase that reads: "You cannot do a good act without having an excellent company" and those are our parents and grandparents, engaged with me in this dream, which we will make come true, because it came to remain. Good luck!
Executive, grandmother and judokas give their opinions…
Carlos enrique álvarez garcía, executive secretary of the project and grandfather: highlights the joy in the rescued judo room, explaining that the facility was practically abandoned when they decided to take over the project, which brings together children - currently around 50 - from 5-16 years in five categories, joined by juniors too.
They are very enthusiastic; comply with the discipline required and the regulation, signed by all parents, grandparents, in short, by all the relatives of the children.
But the most important thing about this Project or dream - he highlighted - is that the community has found and loves everything we do, with the efforts of families and students.
Maria Luisa Bernal, better known as the Super Grandmother because, as I was told and checked, she is in everything, he says: "My job is to help in everything they need, in whatever I can. It is a dream that is already becoming a reality, very beautiful, because the children learn, discipline themselves, have the possibility to make their dreams come true, and this is very close to me, because my 12-year-old granddaughter and sixth grader is one from them".
No one wanted to miss the collective photo.
Idalis Torres Cutiño (8 years old), third grader: "What I like the most is that it helps us all to be good, with the help of the teachers, guided by Vetía. I hope to be an Olympic champion. To participate in the project you have to be a good student, you have to carry both things together and well, study and sports, that's good. I learned very quickly the poetry that I offered to those present on Fidel, but with much love, because Fidel was very good and loved children a lot, a true guide".
Yasmani Enrique Veitisolo Sosa (17 years old), student and worker: "I joined the project because I am a judo lover, and in it I have the possibility to make my dream of being a good judoka come true. I would like to be an Olympic champion, get a good result and be useful to society. There is a very good atmosphere, we are a great family. I studied tenth grade at “Roberto Labrada” pre-university school and work in a private “guarapera” (sugarcane juicing business). Now I will enter the Faculty in August".
For the time being, Veitía is readying to make his new dream come true from Santa Maria del Rosario, where one again he sowed the seed that led him to glory in high performance, with the certainty that very soon this will yield the fruits he expects from his new little disciples, and convinced they will be great on and off the mat, like his Marianas.
Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff