Sept. 29, 2022

Don’t Be a Dead Fish with Jorge Vallejo, Founder of Upper 90

Don’t Be a Dead Fish with Jorge Vallejo, Founder of Upper 90

In Episode 101, Jorge Vallejo, Founder of Upper 90 in Philadelphia and Atlanta, 2019 CLN Coach of the Year, and Chaplain of the Atlanta United, talks with Phil and Paul about lessons he learned playing youth football (soccer) in Colombia, how he ended...

In Episode 101, Jorge Vallejo, Founder of Upper 90 in Philadelphia and Atlanta, 2019 CLN Coach of the Year, and Chaplain of the Atlanta United, talks with Phil and Paul about lessons he learned playing youth football (soccer) in Colombia, how he ended up in the US for college, his journey to start Upper 90 and how he is transforming vulnerable communities with soccer, and how he uses lessons learned from soccer in his leadership of Upper 90 and in his marriage and parenting. There is so much great stuff in this interview and we can’t wait to hear how Jorge inspires you to use the beautiful game to change lives for the better. Specifically, Jorge discusses:

  • His personal story, how his childhood in Colombia and college in the US shaped him and how he developed his passion for soccer, leadership, ministry, and coaching (2:12)
  • How he is using soccer to teach life lessons to vulnerable communities in Atlanta through Upper 90 (7:48)
  • A great story about a life transformed through Upper 90 in Atlanta (13:22)
  • His work with the Atlanta United and how it compares with his work with the youth in the community (18:31)
  • How he has used lessons learned from soccer in his ministry (24:41)
  • What he likes and dislikes about youth soccer in the US (30:15)
  • How he is using lessons learned from soccer in his marriage and parenting (37:29)
  • His book recommendation (43:38)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil: Welcome back to how soccer explains leadership. Thanks again for being a part of the conversation. I'm Phil dark. You're a host as usual. Now I'm gonna say that because I am going to make the future true as usual. Paul jobs is here with me today, as we're doing a another, hopefully I have no doubt. It will be another great interview that we're gonna be able to bring your way.

Paul, how you doing this morning?

[00:00:24] Paul: Doing great. Hey, you say it enough. It's just gonna happen. But that's exactly right. I think we're making this happen, Phil. So I'm excited to be back with, with you again, and I, yeah, as you said, looking forward to another great great interview today.

[00:00:37] Phil: Yeah. So, you know, Paul and I, we, we very, very likely, we just talked about this before recording very likely met.

In Atlanta. We had Dan Williams last week from Atlanta who happens to be a friend of our guest today. Who's also coming at us from Atlanta. I say, Atlanta, it's the Atlanta area, but you know, Atlanta just goes out miles and miles and miles beyond the city limits. So we have Jorge. [00:01:00] Vallejo here with us. Just, I'm so excited for this interview because I, I watched a little video about Jorge cuz he won the coach's leadership network coach of the year in 2019.

We'll put that video in the show notes. So you can take a look at that. We're gonna talk about a lot of the things there. He also founded an organization called upper 90, doing some really cool things in Atlanta with a lot of, lot, lot more to this man that we. Get to hear today. So, without any more from Paul and me right now, you'll probably hear enough from, from us during this conversation.

We got Jorge with us, Jorge, how you doing?

[00:01:33] Jorge: Hey, good afternoon. How you guys doing? Doing well. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Well,

[00:01:36] Phil: good. Well, well, Jorge, you know, we, we talked about this before you you're you're from Columbia. And I. Inadvertently misspelled it in the in the show notes, are they outlined?

And I apologize for that, but I want you to just, you know, briefly share with us about your, your, your childhood, about your you know, what brought you to the us, just your story really, and how you developed your passion for soccer and [00:02:00] leadership and, and how you got to be where you are.

[00:02:02] Jorge: Definitely. Thank you. Yeah, so, so yeah, so I'm, I'm from Bogota, Colombia south America. And as you guys know football what, what we call soccer here in the states, football is just, is just part of life. And so I grew up in a family that everybody plays football. That's how my parents met.

You know, grow up with that grandma lost football. So, so that was part, part of the culture grew up in a underserved community. But I just remember for me soccer is, is just kind of, I remember growing up doing what blessed me with friendships, what honestly also kept me away from trouble, cuz all we wanted to do was always, always play soccer.

And, and for me personally Faith is something that has a big part of my life now. But it wasn't back then. But soccer just gave me opportunities to, to pursue it. My dream of professional soccer in Colombia. Soccer opened doors for me that I thought was never gonna have, I did. I, wasn't not even interested, but soccer opened doors to get a higher education in college in the [00:03:00] United States.

Again, I was never gonna go to college, not even in Colombia. But, but again, value this thing of soccer to, to open so many opportunities to come to the states, play college football, gain an education after that get more involved into coaching at a high level continue to play pro soccer and, and where I'm right now is leading an organization that.

Again, you see this thing of, of football, which I tell people is if you, if you look at football you know, it's a, it's a soccer ball, it's a ball fill with air. And I always tell people think about that. It's a ball feel with air, that's it. But if you go everywhere in the world, it's amazing. Just the passion that brings to people.

So, so anyway, that, that was part of my life. And that's what guy used to, to gimme many opportunities both in my country, but now where he has me in.

[00:03:47] Phil: Yeah. And one of the things you talked about in that video was, you know, for your dad and what it meant for, to him, of, of you being able to go to the United States and you, I think the, the analogy you used, it was like, you know, someone telling you you'd go to, you'd be going to the moon or something to be able [00:04:00] to go.

And so can you just talk about that as far as, you know, how that happened and then just really in your family, what that meant and, and why it meant, so.

[00:04:09] Jorge: Definitely. Yeah. So, so again, in our family, the way to make it out of power to is you become a pro footballer. And so, so for me, that was a dream. And at the age of 15, I got called to a trial for one of the pro teams in my city.

Of course, that was really big for me. Went to the trial, made the team and, and again, that team had a lot of influence in my life. That's where I met a lot of people that have. People that start talking about, Hey, football is a gift from God. So that, that impacted me a lot. And through that group of people one of my agents, he became a pastor in, in in Miami and he started talking with my parents.

And again, my dad grow homeless really poor community. But for my dad to hear that there's an opportunity for your son to get not just an education, but a free education from the United States of America. That that was just unheard. Like that was just something [00:05:00] like, I always tell people, it's like, somebody tell you, Hey, you get to go to Mars.

And, and again, for me, if I'm honest, I, I did not wanna pursue that. I also reigned that path to start my pro career continue to grow. But again, the door my parents encouraged me. Hey, just, just go check it out for a month. I came here for a month and, and again, the rest is history. How got opened those doors.

But yeah, for my dad, my dad, again, he didn't graduate from high school until his probably mid thirties. He's right now, 62, he graduated from law where he was 55. So for my dad, education always had a big importance. So for him seeing that his son gets to have an education from the United States. For him, that was just a big win that he thought we were never gonna have a chance to have.

So, so anyway, that was a big, big for family.

[00:05:46] Phil: Yeah, that's a, that's awesome. That's such a good, such a great story. To be able, as you talked about it, cuz education was so important and I, I, I just, I just love hearing that. And, and through that, as you talked about, you met different people along the way God brought different people into your life.

You had different [00:06:00] opportunities, obviously going to school, being able to do different things, but through all of that, you developed a, you know, I'm, I'm assuming you, you developed a personal mission, kinda your, your personal, why? What, what is that and, and how are you living it out every.

[00:06:12] Jorge: Yeah, definitely.

No. Yeah. For, so for me personally, definitely again, again, just my story. Faith has a big component of what I do. So for me, everything that I do, I just feel like I have learned that all of life is stewardship. Like God blesses us with opportunities. And for me it's like, how can I leverage what God allows me to, to have in life, talents, time treasures.

How can I use that for his glory, for the good of my community? So in a way, for me, the way I do life is like, Hey, how's this adding value to the kingdom of God and how is my presence in this community being a benefit, not to me, but to my neighbor and specifically to, to my underserved community. So that's how only again, only by God's grace.

I get to do life is like, okay here's, here's what God has given me. How can I steward that? And how can I [00:07:00] maximize that for his glory? Of course my, my good but key component for me. How's that benefiting my community. So that's a way that I, I try again by God's grace to, to do life.

[00:07:13] Phil: Yeah. And I know that resonates with both me and Paul.

So, you know, Paul, what, what do you think of that?

[00:07:18] Paul: Yeah, I, I love that. I love just how that that kind of pushes you and, and motivates you and, and probably sets a lens before you as to what decisions to make and, and where to go. And I think that transitions really well into, you know, I wanna talk a little bit about upper 90, like what, what were kind the origins of upper 90 and, and tell us a little bit about that, that organization and, and your work with FCA.

[00:07:38] Jorge: Definitely. Yeah. So, so pretty quick after graduating college, I, I wanted to continue the, the dream to play pro soccer, go open a few doors in different places. I ended up the last team. It was in Philadelphia. And back then there was no MLS team that was the IL team. And, but after practice, I was bringing a soccer ball to downtown Philly.

I was living in Philadelphia. And if you know, Philly, if you don't know, [00:08:00] Philly is, is really not soccer town, it's an Eagles and a Philadelphia Philly. That that's what it is, especially downtown mm-hmm, but I'm bringing this soccer bowl and, and all these kids were coming. I was meeting these kids. Most of these kids that I was serving the, they were African American kids.

So I just remembered that's not the sport. So it was kind of funny cause they, they were, they were no good at all at the sport. But because they. Coach Jorge coming every week, twice a week. And he was always there. We just had a relationship where I started kind of coaching them a little bit hearing about their lives and, and they kind of broke my heart because the way they saw life, the future for them.

And again, this is a really rough community called Kensington in downtown Philly. What they saw in life is like, The options has become a bowler, a rapper or a drug dealer. And that was said, and for me, growing up in a community like that, I was like, Hey guys, there's actually way more than that. There's many more opportunities with, with education businesses.

And for me, God gave me a burden of how can I use this thing of soccer or sports to develop some kind of social [00:09:00] enterprise that provides mentors to underserved children to help them win, not just on the. In life, whatever that looks like education purpose, of course, for me, faith. I want him to know that, Hey, Hey, God loves you.

He has a plan for you. Whether you become a CEO, a pro player, a painter, a plumber, a that, whatever it is that you do, your F gives you a greater purpose. So, so I started doing that. That's when I met with FCA incredible guy called Terry Hill. They were looking for somebody to serve in the inner city Philly.

So he came alongside me and, and said, Hey, we love what you're doing. We love to come alongside you. And that's what I heard for the first time. FCA fellowship of Christian athletes big, big ministry, beautiful ministry. So they basically gave me a platform to, to do what I was doing with soccer in the community, because FCAs, FCAs works a little different with the huddles in high schools.

What I was doing, it was inside the communities with mentoring and soccer and that kind of, as that. Long story short ended up moving to Atlanta to continue [00:10:00] to grow that, that soccer ministry and moving to Atlanta. FCAs incredible ministry well respected specifically on the south. But what we do as night is different.

So it came a moment that we decided. Hey, FCA. We're so grateful for you. We've been partners for like almost 13 years. Let's continue to work together, but, but we're kind of gonna go this different lane because we saw that God was giving us opportunity to grow more and more. So open 90 is, is started in 2006 in downtown Philly.

But officially as a nonprofit register, nonprofit is of 2019. And again, this is what we do. We use the platform of soccer. To come alongside families, children in understood communities and partner with them and equip and empower them to win on the field and in life and what that looks like. A lot of our kids in the communities that we serve, undocumented immigrants, refugees, they drop already high school is huge.

And that's one of our goals actually, is that through mentoring life skills, through sports, [00:11:00] we wanna make sure that our kids graduate from high school, with a plan for their life. And, and again, if you're not a soccer person listening to this this program, Upper 90 is a soccer concept. Like I, I believe both of you guys are soccer people.

So Oprah night, what does that mean to you guys? What, what is that? What is that for you? Top corner,

[00:11:18] Paul: top corner of the goal. That's right.

[00:11:20] Jorge: Excellent. Perfect shot. I should tell people, is that goal from Messi in the champions league? I think it was 2019, maybe free kick against Liverpool and it's top corner.

So they're the hardest goals to score. They're so hard cuz you have a wall, you have an obstacle, so you have to kick it. With the right pace, right direction. And no matter how good that keeper is, if you go stop corner, it's not only a goal, but it's an incredible what we call go lasso people go crazy. So why open 90?

Cuz God has given us a heart, a burden to partner with families, living in underserved communities, partner. Work alongside them to help them score the greatest goals in life. And our families have a lot, a lot of obstacles. They don't have a level playing field, so we wanna [00:12:00] support that. They have that, but when they score that goal and for us is this, when they come, when they discover and embrace the love of God in their lives, that's an Upper 90 goal for us.

And we go crazy. We celebrate when their child graduates from high school and is the first one in their family to graduate from high school. That's an Upper 90 goal for. And we celebrate that or where somebody in that family understands that, Hey, no matter what you do in your, in your life work, whatever you do, faith equips you to have a purpose in anything that you do, whether it's washing a dish, leading a company, that's an Upper 90 goal.

So that's, that's why for us, we're called Upper 90. We're just a bunch of soccer people that, that we wanna serve and learn from our.

[00:12:40] Paul: Yeah, I love that. Just some amazing just opportunities to celebrate life changing moments. And I like how you've incorporate that into like, like you said, the Golaso, the, one of the most amazing feats in, in, in, in the game itself is putting that ball in that spot and the ones that can do it over and over again.

Are the ones that get the most praise or success. And, and I love that your organization [00:13:00] is, is one of those that's doing that. Is there a story HGE of like maybe a certain individual that just comes to mind that just you you've been able to celebrate over the years and just maybe that, that wow factor is there.

Is there one story that stands out to you that you can share with

[00:13:12] Jorge: our listeners? Yeah, there's a few, the, the first one that comes to mind, we had a kid and again, in Atlanta a lot of some, the majority of the community that we serve, they're mobile home parks, and they're mostly Hispanic family, first generation people here in this country.

And we have this kid that he started with us Bryan. He play, he started with us in the, in the, in the, in the program as a young. We were able to provide a mentor into his life to provide again. What, what brought him to us is his passion for football. That's why he was there. But to that passion, we got to come equip him, make him a better player with more important equipment with the life skills to succeed both in school, in life, his community.

Long story short, this kid ended up, you know, going through our program. He, he graduated from high school. He was the first one in his family to graduate from high school. That was huge. But what I love is that then Brian for a few [00:14:00] years after he was done playing with our program, after he was older, he became one of our mentor coaches in our program.

And for me, that was, that really helped us to realize like, Hey. That's key for a strategy that our goal is not just for us to bring these people from this side, come here to serve, but the better strategy for us, like how, how are we replicating leaders in the community? Because, because this kid, Brian graduated those kids in his community, they're like, okay, wait.

That's not coach, you know, Michael, he comes from outside, that's coach Bryan. He's one of us. He graduated from high school and he's in college now. And, and I think he, that kid has had such an impact in his community because he's one of them. So that's one of my that's, that's always been one of my favorite stories, just, just because we, we wanna multiply.

Bryans in our community and the last one also, Judy, Judy's actually one of her teammates. One of her staff, Judy grew up in Honduras. We have our ministry in Honduras as well. Judy as a female, she, she grew up in 14 different orphanages. As a female, she was not allowed to play [00:15:00] soccer because you're a female, right.

In some places, still a male sport. Well, this girls kind of stubborn. She could explain the punishment. They shave her head. She didn't care. Oh, Pretty sure God opened the doors for this girl. She ended up getting a full scholarship to play college soccer in the states. Now she's been serving with open night for the last eight years.

And together with her, we established open night Honduras now for 11 years where she gets to come. We're serving orphans and children from the street in Honduras. And here's Judy sharing with them, her story saying like, Hey guys, I'm one of you. I'm one of you. And, and, and, and guess what, God, God has. My pain and he has redeemed that.

And what the difficulties happen in my life is what guys using that now, stretchers to provide hope to others. And again, for us, that's, that's why we do what we do. Hey, listen, we love football. But we're not a soccer club. We're more than that, but we're using this platform of football to see that kind of life transformation.

[00:15:56] Phil: Absolutely love that, man. It's so, so [00:16:00] encouraging. You know, my heart for Honduras worked there 13 years. And just absolutely love the people of Hondura some, I consider family members down there. I definitely want to go down with you some someday hopefully in the near future and be able to do some work, get down there.

Have you, yeah, well let's, let's make it happen. Let's make it happen. I know. When I texted Sean Smithson, who actually connected us, we're gonna get Sean on here someday. Hopefully soon. He said he was down there with you. And I was, I was definitely had a bit of envy there, because yeah, I just love, absolutely love my my brothers and sisters in Honduras.

So, I love how it happened. It wasn't just, you know, saying, Hey, let's go. And, you know, Throw a dart on a board. And I love how God brought you to, you know, a country that wasn't, you know, you're a home country as well, to be able to do life with different people in different areas and different parts.

And it was an organic growth that that was just God leading you there. And I absolutely love, love hearing that story and actually reminds me my daughter when she was nine. I took her to Honduras with me on a, on a trip. And, [00:17:00] and I said, you know, what do you have to. To give back, what do you have that you have a skill that you can encourage and love people with?

And she says, I play soccer. And I said, yeah, exactly. Mm-hmm . And so she, at nine years old, did a, a clinic for seven year old girls at the school, in, in, in the community that we had there. And it was such a beautiful thing that she was just able to play and encouraged. Like you said, girls who were not encouraged to play, but to see another girl come and, and who could play, who was about her age and it.

And to come back year, year after year and see those girls, same girls playing with the boys in, in several of 'em were better than the boys after the years, cuz they, after that saw, you know what it is, it is right and good for these girls to be playing this game. And it's not just for the boys. So love that super encouraged by that.

And yeah, I just wanna say keep it up brother. Love, love it. You, you also. In addition or is part of, I, I don't know if it's part of, or just something you do on the side, but you're also the chaplain for the [00:18:00] Atlanta United. I, I assume you still are, that video was made a few years ago, but maybe you aren't, but whether you are or aren't, but what does that look like in as far as you know, you're working with the youth and then you're also chaplain for Atlanta United.

Likely a different demographic. There might be some similar people with that, with that background, but how is the work similar and different from your work with the youth players and teams that you're working with with upper

[00:18:21] Jorge: 90? Yeah, definitely. I'm definitely there. Yeah. And I'm still, I'm still part of the team serving as a chaplain and a mentor coach.

Yeah. No, we're still, we're still serving them and yeah, definitely different demographics. But it's the same in a way it's just the same work. Like again, kind of the work that I do, you know, we, we talk a lot about a mentor coach, so that's kind of what I see myself with, with the youth, but also with these guys that, of course, they're, they're at a high level.

And as you guys know at a high level, of course, there's, there's. A lot different pressures in life. But the way it looks like I've been blessed for many years just to come alongside those guys. And, and we meet on a weekly basis. When I play, I was impacted by the [00:19:00] chaplains that we have on the teams.

And, but I also learned through that we, we meet during the week because I prefer to meet with the guys, Hey, I wanna meet with you for an. That to meet for about two minutes on game day. So that's the way I do it. We meet actually during the week after training and of course it's voluntary. Anybody that wants to come, they meet with us.

And I love it. Cuz I have guys that. Is part of their life. So definitely we, we talk about, Hey, what does it look like for us to pursue God, to pursue faith in the context of our careers? How does it look like to steward that, to honor that here in this training facility, in the stadium, but also in your day to day life.

So literally we just open God's word read it, and then we go deeper. We say, okay, what, what do we observe there? And then how, how can you apply that today? So I've been blessed because again, so many players that, you know, either they're injured or situations happening at home, or they just need encouragement.

But I'm grateful that I also have players that faith, they're not sure about faith. They just know that that. That the mental [00:20:00] side is a key part of the game. So they still wanna meet and they wanna talk about, you know, even faith, even if it's new for them, they, they feel welcome. So for me personally, I love that.

I love that they, they feel welcome. They feel honored even with their lack of faith. And we just talk about life and the struggles that they have. We, we support them, we encourage them. So we do that as a. But then also I offered to the guys opportunity, like, Hey, if you want to go deeper and then I'm able to develop more of one-on-one discipleship opportunities, where of course a little more private.

And then my wife, the beautiful thing is my wife. I'm married. We have four children. My wife, she did not play soccer. She's not an athlete, but but she has a heart for female. So my wife gets to serve the players' wives and girl. How would that look like? Like this week we have a guy he's playing with the national team during the break right now.

And his wife, you know, is at home with two babies. And I remember my wife, when I play pro player wives, they, everybody thinks like, Hey, you have an amazing life, which they are, they're blessed, but, but they have a lot of challenges. So sometimes the way it looks like that we serve is that we get to [00:21:00] just.

Come and bring a meal or say, Hey, we'll help with the baby. So you get a little break. So, so anyway, again, we, we're just blessed that we get to do that. And for me now that I'm not a player at that level anymore, I love it because I still get to, to encourage those guys that, that guys has given them a great platform in their lives.


[00:21:18] Phil: I, I love that. And one, one of the things we we talk about is, is that being able to come in and just, you know, do life with each other. Right. And that it, it doesn't have to be rocket science, as you said, sharing a meal, just coming alongside somebody when they need some help. And, and so I just, I, I super encouraged by you and, and yeah.

So anyway, Paul, what do you, what do you got.

[00:21:41] Paul: Yeah, Jorge. I mean, one of the things that just to kind of keep going on this, just, just for a second, one of the things that, that my wife are, are very encouraged by is, is just, and things that we've seen through our coaching career is, is having players that have faith and they have sport.

But have never really merged that together. Do you [00:22:00] find that with, with, with the professional players in any sense, have you seen that at all where you kind of come in and, and there's this revelation of like, wow. I've, I've never really thought about putting these two, two things together. Have you, have you seen that?

[00:22:12] Jorge: Yes, big time, big time. And I think that was me again. I did not grow up in faith. I, I, and for me as a Christian, I, I didn't come to know the love of Christ at a church. I came to know his love and grace on the soccer field, and it was through some of my pro teammates that shared and, and then learning how, how that, you know, how, how that, how my faith equips me.

So yeah, a lot of the players that I'm at that level, like, yes, we kinda, in, in another fault, maybe just the way that we grow up, that we say, okay, faith is maybe what I do on a Sunday. But then, then the, the blessing to come alongside them to say no, no, no. Like you're missing an incredible opportunity that, that scripture says, you know, whatever you do do it with all your heart as to the Lord.

And guess what, as athletes, we know what it looks like to give our hearts on that field. So, so for me, that's the, my favorite part to be able to walk alongside people, players of faith, but also the ones of no [00:23:00] faith. And allow them to see like, Hey, faith encompasses all aspects of your life. Faith is the foundation that equips you that to, I tell players like, listen, faith is such a, such an advantage, cuz guess what?

Whatever the world throws out, you, even the bad stuff, faith takes that and it helps you navigate that, but then uses it to make you a better player, a better person. So, so I love it. When players connect. And, and God has allowed me to enjoy that when players connect that. And man, they're like, they're just drinking.

God's word. They're like, I want more, I want more, give me more for me that for me, man, I don't know how you call it, but it's that adrenaline that I just love seeing doing that in people's life. When they, when they're able to connect, like, okay, God gave me this talent, how do I get to steward it? Because it's not mine.

He's got, how can I get to steward it? Allow God to grow it, expand it for his glory and for my good. So, so anyway, that's, I definitely love experiencing that.

[00:23:55] Paul: Yeah. It's a pretty, pretty cool thing to, to see for sure. And I love, I love how you're, you're [00:24:00] explaining that of, you know, taking faith and, and putting in, into sport and, and just kind of through your, through your experiences of, of how you, how you came to your faith and that describes it, who you are and how you do things.

If you flip that switch a little bit, how does soccer the game of football, how has that kinda. Helped you along the way in the things that you do in your leadership styles as well. So you kind of flipped that a little bit, like your faith determines a lot of like who you are and what you do. How is the game of football of soccer, the things that you've learned through the sport, how has that kind of dictated your leadership styles too?

If that makes sense.

[00:24:31] Jorge: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. The first thing that comes to mind to me is like the people that know me just in the nonprofit world you know, the work that I do with leader. But they don't know me as a player and as a coach, but then maybe they come with me to Honduras and they see me coach.

They're like, oh, wow. I never saw that side of you. cause I, I get an advantage. I, I think a strength that I have that can easily become a weakness is that God created me. As a competitor. I, I love to compete. I, I [00:25:00] love, I don't like to lose. I don't think there's people. I don't think there's nobody that likes to lose.

I don't like to lose, but I have this kinda, you know, I, I, anyway, I don't know how to explain it, but no, when I'm in the soccer field coaching, and of course we honor and respect, but I'm pretty intense. And, and I will say for me, soccer, it just equip me as a leader in so many ways that, especially for soccer, you know, you're playing 11 players on the.

I always wonder cuz I, I enjoy tennis. I in Colombia tennis, I never got to really enjoy a lot of tennis, but I do now. And, and I always like, man, I like tennis because Jorge is just me like work hard focusing by the way, tennis is such a mental game. It's is a difficult sport, but it is just you for me, I think soccer has, has allowed me to grasp.

I learned so many ways because you have 11 people on a team and you could have messy on your team. But if the other 10 are not committed to work as a team it's difficult. So, so I think those are some of the things that soccer has allowed me to grow. As a person, as a leader is just how, how to lead that team.

How to help everybody [00:26:00] know that, Hey, you, everybody here on this team, we, you have a role. Every role matters. Just not because you know, the one that scores you don't, you don't matter. No, everybody has a.

What does that look like for me as a leader? I think that's my job. My job is that, how can I elevate everybody? so again, I know if that's that's how, where the answer was going, but those are some of the things that I think soccer has helped me kind of kind of grow as, as a leader. And I give an example, another one, like last night, I, I I'm also help outta college for the last 11 years here in Atlanta.

 We're playing I believe there were number two in the nation. Mobile in Alabama and big game. We have, we have a really good game. We ended up losing four to five.

I remember we started pretty poor. I think this score two goals in the first two minutes. It was, it was awful. Oh my gosh. But I remember in the half time, I just feel like for me again, God can, I got put in my heart with this guy, like I said, Hey, look at me said, listen, I don't care what this score is at the end.

You need to know like, I'm for you. I love you. I care for you. And that's not gonna change no matter what this score, but with that take that. And go out there and be confident play. I know how you can play, go [00:27:00] play. So we go to play second, have the team man, so proud of them and the effort. The, the bravery, the courage to go to some tackles.

The game ended up again. We lost four or five. We're actually four, four. We scored to win. They say it was offside. Again, I wish I had VAR. And then we, a few minutes left. The gave that a penalty that was outside the box. Anyway, we ended up losing, but at the end of the game, there was just this sense of me that, yeah, it was upsetting.

But I was like, I was like, man, that was a good game. That was a great game. And I told the guy, I said, I know you're upset, but dude, what are resilience? What courage that you guys never gave up, you came and you fought and, and listen, you, you almost won the game. And I told him, I said, you know, sometimes you win.

Sometimes we'll learn. So, so guess what we learn from. For me. That's good. So I was like, don't wait the opportunity today. Let's go back. Let's look at video, get better. But anyway, that's something that I tell people said, I think soccer being a coach and a player [00:28:00] has taught me so much about just being a leader and serving the teams.

[00:28:04] Phil: Yeah. That's so good. That's so good. And that's, I mean, that's why we do this show, right? Is these life leadership lessons we can learn from the game? That is, goes so far beyond winning. Right. And we even talked about last week with, with Dan Williams, just about that. When we focus too much on winning, we miss the lessons.

Right. And to be able to see that in the moment, like kudos to you, man, that's hard to do when you're in the middle of it. To be able to bring that, you know, and, and there's actually been times where I, I, I really appreciate the humility of coaches that I coach with cuz you know, with the disc training and the personality style stuff that we do, they're in the middle of the heat of battle.

And then they'll come up to me right before half time and say, okay, how do I connect with these, with these girls today? Because I wanna just rail into 'em and yell at 'em and yell at 'em and yell at 'em. But I, I know that won't be effective. So what can we do? You know? And, and it's that? How can we take a step back before just reacting.

You know, to, to basically what you were [00:29:00] able to do at that halftime after the game. You know, it's hard to do when you lose a tight game, especially on bad calls so anyway, kudos to you for being able to do that at the, at the halftime, after the game, to be able to really connect with the players and be able to teach them those life lessons that we can learn from the game.

Because I think that that's, that's missing in a lot of our youth sports in a lot of our college sports and a lot of, you know, I mean in pro sports as well. One thing we all know is that life happens after soccer, right? Like that everyone will end their career at some point mm-hmm . So are they gonna be ready for that life after soccer?

And on that note, you know, what are with regard to youth soccer, you're working with the youth, you're working with college, you're working with pro players, but what are, what are some of the things that you and, and you played and you grew up in a different country. And so. And it with a different system.

And now the youth system here was different when we were kids too. But what are some of the things you like about youth soccer in the us and [00:30:00] what are some things that you'd like to change about the current state of youth soccer here in the us?

[00:30:05] Jorge: Definitely. Well, and I guess in one of the things that I have observed now as a parent, so I have four children, 11 year old boy, nine year old girl.

Seven year old girl and four year old boy. And they're all playing food, soccer, football is that one thing for me that is sad for me as somebody that grew up in south America, I grew up playing in the street. You play until it was dark or your grandma call you, Hey, it's time to go to bed kind of thing.

Mm-hmm I can, I cannot offer that to my children in this country. Okay. Mm-hmm I know my kids get to come with me sometimes to Clarkstone is a refugee community. We, it kind of looks like that, but where we, where we are right now you know, is nothing wrong with this. I mean, we're grateful where God has, but you know, it's suburbia.

So that for me personally, just as Jorge for me, that's something like, man, I wish they had that. So that's why I love when we go to Honduras, cuz that's what is there? Like mm-hmm, playing soccer for fun. So that's one is. I think [00:31:00] that Baptist of the United States, of course, this nation has been so blessed with resources.

So you look see some of these facilities, like, like some of the work that I do at climate United academies. I mean, what they have is incredible. I mean, incredible facilities, the technology. So that's where I see the us. In the youth size man, they're, they're, they're catching up. They improving, I personally, just me as Jorge, I think what we still have as Hispanics, Latin America.

I think when we talk about just the, the technique of the technique of the game, just, just having that kind of flavor, I think we still win. We have that, but I tell my Hispanic community, my Latin countries is that the gap is getting smaller. The gap is getting smaller because. South American players, like, yes, we have the technique.

It's natural. That's what we do. But when we talk about discipline, when we talk about work ethic, I think that's what this nation has done such a great job. Like you talk about coaching education. There's a process in our country, in our countries. [00:32:00] Finally, as of a few years now, there's actually coaching licenses.

So we are so behind on that. So that's the benefit of this country. You have that, but also if you think about the youth level, There's just so many leagues. There's so many leagues, like, you know, there's, ECNL, there's DPL, there's you know, there's the us soccer academy that last year changed. So, so. I think there's lack of like clarity or vision of what the, the process is.

So, you know, the other thing too is like you look at every other sports in the states like basketball, NFL, it seems like a lot of your better players they're they grew up in a underserved inner city environment. It seems like. That's the way it is soccer in Colombia. Is, is those the, the name Mars, the Ronald Aldi, all those guys.

They're, you know, they grew up playing on the street in this country. The reality is, and that's why Upper 90 exists. Youth soccer is a pay to play model. It's a, is a, in my opinion, it's a middle class and [00:33:00] high sport. And that's where I think we need to figure out ways. How can we make the game more accessible and, and believe me, I know it's challenging, cause I know you have to pay coach.

If you want good coaches, you have to pay them a salary. You have to rent fields. Those fields are grass. They need to be water. So understand. There's not an easy solution, but but I guess for me, that's why Upper 90 exists. We see a gap. There's a, there's a generation of underserved minorities, Hispanic refugees, that they have so much talent, but they don't have access to some of those opportunities because either the cause or here in Atlanta, some clubs wanna recruit some of my guys and I'm like, Hey, I, I support that.

You need to give him a scholarship. Oh, but Hey coach, are you gonna provide transportation? And they cannot. So, so those are some of the issues that I'm seeing that, that I think on the level of us soccer, us youth soccer, I would like to see more clarity. I, I met somebody from Germany, from the Federation in Germany and they, the German Federation, they manage [00:34:00] all of soccer from the pro level to the youth level, even in the.

So it's the Federation to, so at least whether you agree or not, or not, at least there's a process. There's a one body in my experience, in my limited experience in the states, it seems that there's so many different bodies that sometimes of course they they're bumping heads. So, so I don't know. I just feel like maybe I wonder there's a better way.

Which again, that's not my job. I'm sure there's many, many opinions there, but that's what I have observed in my years here in the states.

[00:34:28] Paul: Yeah, I find, I find that opinion very, very valuable. And I think some of the, you hit on some of the things I think that, that are obstacles within our own country is that there are, is a lot of opportunity.

There's a lot of wealth, there are a lot of numbers, you know, there's a lot of people mm-hmm , and it's, it's very difficult. I mean, I know even as I think I've told the story before, when I've been in Spain and just walking through and just seeing places where there's just pickup games going on in the, in the community, there's a concrete pad with P.

Metal posts in the ground and there's just people waiting to, to play, pick up soccer or kids in the park, or, you know, it's not, not that there's [00:35:00] not organized sport, but there's opportunity to just. Go and play. And I think a lot of it here is very controlled and coached in a lot of ways. And there's Val there's value to that also.

I think there's a both, and mm-hmm but I love your, I love your view on that and your experience. It speaks very well into that. Yep. So I appreciate

[00:35:17] Jorge: that. And if I can give you a one quick thought too, I think there's, I think for me, I love this part of this country is that you're able to, to pursue your college education and pursue your passion for the sport.

Mm-hmm, , that's not available in our countries, in our countries. Like, like by 15, if you're not playing pro you're not gonna be playing pro that's it. And there's nothing else. One thing that I think this country has the benefit is like last night and we have a bunch of guys, they would like one day to be pro, but right now they get an education.

So what I love that is that when, when, when God called me to retire from pro sports, I had a degree. I had an opportunity. I had an education and I think that's valuable because a lot of my teammates back home when they retire, they're you know, probably in their thirties, mid thirties. And they're trying to go back to school, [00:36:00] which again, nothing wrong with that.

Oh, I'm saying that there's also some advantages that I have learned from this country on, on how can you offer through soccer opportunities for people, for education, for a better future. And, and I think you guys have that path well done.

[00:36:14] Paul: I, I definitely, definitely agree with you there. And I see that as well. Just not that connection to the education piece is a, is a huge advantage here. I think for sure. And As we kind of kind of switch directions here. There's a few questions. We, we, I think we ask everybody on the podcast and, and one of those is a little bit more personal.

Maybe Jorge we'll get a little personal here. But when you think about the game and you think about, you've mentioned your family, you're married, you have four kids. Me also, by the way, Phil has outdone us. He. Way more than four he's over an overachiever in all areas, even, even having children. So, but what are, what are things that, that the game itself ha has taught you, that you used in your marriage and in, in parenting, we talked about it in leadership and of course you're leading in your home, but are there things that you use.

So you've got a great [00:37:00] example. You, you always you always use when you're describing this, is that what, what is it? What is it? You've gotta say it. Cause it sounds the

[00:37:05] Phil: retaliation gets the red, the retaliation gets the red. In fact, I used that just a couple days ago in the, in the house. So yes, absolutely.

[00:37:13] Paul: I love that. So what are some things from the game Jorge that that you, that you use in, in marriage and.

[00:37:19] Jorge: Yeah, definitely. That's a great question. I will say a clear example that comes to my mind is like you know, kind of already mentioned a little bit that everybody on the team matters.

Everybody has a role. And I think in marriage you know, I have learned we've been married now 13 years and, and just learning, you know, with, with my wife, About how my job as God has called me to lead the family, which doesn't make me better. Doesn't make me, I'm tired. We're both leading. But as I store the literature in my life's like how my job is, like, how can I, you know, how can I live my wife?

How can I make her soccer wise? How can she continue to perform well? And, and I think at the beginning, I think I didn't see that. I think in marriage, I always felt like, like, you know, [00:38:00]okay, I'm leading as long as I'm happy. And, and I never really intentionally thought about that. And I would say it's been a few years recently to, to have the mentality, like, Hey, we're on the same team.

Everybody on the team is growing, getting better. That's the, that's not just good for them, but for the whole team. So that's the first thing that come to my mind is just how, how am I, how am I being a good teammate for my team? Whether I'm the coach, whether I'm see myself as a player but just being a good teammate, support them, loving them.

And, and one of them is cuz I, I, again, I like to do things well with excellence and the issue with that is. It's really hard to replicate yourself. Right? So you need to learn how to give opportunities to people, to, to fail forward, to, to grow by failing. And so that's thing I have learned in my family is like, just, you know, they, they're trying to do something they're failing.

Hey, how can I encourage them? Like, Hey, Hey buddy, well done, you try it. Didn't work. What do you need? So, so in a way, you're coaching them. So again, those are some of the, I will say those are some of the things that, that [00:39:00] come to mind.

[00:39:01] Paul: That, that team concept comes into play really, really well when you start having kids and their personality start developing.

And like you said, you, you don't, kids don't come out like you. They have their own personalities. And sometimes you're like, wait, is that, is that even my kid, like what, what, you know, so it is like, it is more and more like a team where you're like, okay, how can I best, how can I get the best out of my teammate, the best out of my child, the best out of myself, the best out of my wife and yeah.

I think that's great advice for, for. For young coaches, young parents as they go forward. So that's great.

[00:39:32] Jorge: And also one more thing. I think, I think the good coaches for me, the good coaches, like kinda, they identify those hires that you good at and they help and they both encourage it, cuz I believe it, that what's encouraged is repeated.

And again, I have to learn that in my marriage. Anybody complains. I always tell even the coaches that just like I was telling soccer, like the guy had a bad touch and missed the goal and your teammate or your coach is like, Hey, what are you doing? What a bad shot. [00:40:00] I always said, Hey. The feedback that you just gave him.

Did you say something he didn't do already? Like you say, Hey, bad shot. Hey, well done. He already knew that. So I, I personally, cause I know that was an issue with me. I have learned like as a leader, it's okay. Sometimes a leader. We need to be able to point what's done the wrong way, but I, I, I have encouraged myself and others is like, what about.

What are there that you have encouraged because what you encourage is gonna be repeated. So that's the other thing that I have learned in my marriage. Like, especially with my wife, like, how can I, how can I encourage her right now? We're in a seasonal homeschooling. And so, so it's, I tell people, her job is my job is CC.

Her job is so difficult, but, but I have learned to say, Hey, babe. Hey, well done. I noticed what you did with the, my mad the other day. Hey, I love why you're doing that. Like that for me, I have to go against the flow to be that kind of guy mm-hmm because I tell people any, any dead fish goes with the flow.

So when you criticize somebody cuz they did something, you just a dead fish going with the flow man. Like what it looked like for you took against the flow and look for something on [00:41:00] that teammate. As a coach, look something on your players that you, that is positive. And guess what? Encourage it. Again, I believe that was encouraged is repeated, but again, I know that for me, I had to be so intentional to do that because I don't know.

I guess it's easy to do the opposite.

[00:41:16] Phil: Yeah, that's so good. Actually, I I'm gonna combine Ted lasso with what you just said and say be a goldfish, not a dead fish, right? I mean, I think that that could, that could catch on that could catch on. I like that. And you know, the other thing you talked about there is, you know, don't tell someone they, you know, something, they already know. My wife, early on in our marriage. She's also a soccer player said to me, something that has always stuck and I use it all the time in, in trainings that I do and the coaching that I do, I remember it. And she said, Phil, you know, cause I, I criticized her about something apparently that she already knew that she did wrong.

And she said, Phil, when I shank a shot, I don't need you to tell me I shank the. And I thought that that was reminded me of it when you talked about that. And I I said, okay, I okay. [00:42:00] You know, message received. Also how, how our families are different. My, my daughter just this is just crazy.

My daughter just broke her collarbone, which is not a good thing. We're sitting in the ER and I'm sitting there. Yeah. As a, you know, different personality from hers, thinking about all the things she's gonna miss, all the fun. She's not gonna be able to play soccer. She's not gonna be able to play golf that she was starting to play.

She's not gonna be able to do a lot of things that are fun things. And the one thing that she says, oh, no, as I'm relaying these things, I'm probably pouring salt in the wound to her I was keeping most of 'em myself, but I said a couple and she said, oh no. And I said, what, what, what, what else are you gonna miss?

She says, I'm not gonna be able to help my class with the float building for homecoming. That was what she was worried about. She wasn't gonna be able to help others. So, you know, we do need to remember that. Not only are we totally wired differently, but yeah, we are, we're a team. And if we, if we do what we're strong in, it will be awesome. If we, you know, if we [00:43:00] force everyone to do everything that's, that's not.

That's not going to be the best for anybody, cuz people are gonna get stressed out and they're not gonna be doing the things that they're made to do. So. Absolutely love that. So, Jorge. Thank you. We have one more question for you. And this again is something we ask, cause we'd like to learn from what you're learning from.

So what have you read, watch or listened to that has informed your thinking and reminded you that soccer does explain life and leadership?

[00:43:28] Jorge: Yeah, definitely something that I recently, I'm going over with a group of guys that, that I mentor, we are going through this book from Tim Keller called, Every Good Endeavor.

And it's all about how connecting your work to God's work. So even with some of the pro athletes, because again, we, we kind of separate those things and, and going through the book of Genesis where, when we think about work, especially if you're a personal faith, the reality is that most people think of work as a consequence for sin, right.

But just really reframing. God created work before sin entered the equation. [00:44:00] So, so, so God created us to work. Like you, you read the story of creation. God work, God created, but not only he work, he created, he gave us the example that then he rested. No. So that's one. Learning about, you know, I'm not God, so I need to, to rest and, and, and enjoy time of rest.

But also I personally, in the last two weeks, as I've been meditating, journaling on this stuff when he says that and God created this, this, and, and he saw what he created and he said he was very good. And for me personally, I have learned. How does that look like for me when I'm coaching, when I'm doing life, how does it look like for me to, to be able to slow down and look at what God allowed me to do throughout the day and say, oh, wow, that was good work.

What would that be? Could be, you know, coaching a game, coaching, some kids, you know, cooking a meal at home, homeschooling your kids, doing a big business deal, but be able to really slow down and realize. God creator us to work. Your work is not [00:45:00] separate from your faith and really slow down and say, Hey, you know what?

That was good work today. And maybe you look at it, it wasn't good work. Maybe you see God and say, okay, God, how can you equip me to make it good work? So that's a few of the things. Just, just being able to, to understand the, the gift of limits that I need to rest as specifically as a, as. As a young father, I wanna have energy for my kids understanding how can I, you know, I'm created for work and, and enjoy that have joined that.

And then the other thing connected to that, God saw what he did and, and he delight in it. And, and that's my challenge to, to myself and people like, do you delight in the word that God has allowed you to do? Cuz I think God creators to work, to do good work and to enjoy it, whatever that is, whether you are washing a dish, which I know if you have read a book called brother Lawrence, He said that, you know, whatever you do, he found out that he wanted to, to experience faith.

So he went to a monastery, he got education and his role at the monastery was washing dishes. And he [00:46:00] wrote a whole book about I'm worshiping God by washing dishes. Mm-hmm anyway, that's why I'm currently, I feel like it's informing my leadership about, you know, I honor God, I, I get to serve God and, and what a blessing I get to serve God, I get to experience faith.

I get to share my faith with a soccer ball. So I always tell people, you have passions that God has given you, whatever that is. You have those passions. I wanna encourage you, how you bring purpose to that. Passion for me, that's for me is faith. My faith now is giving purpose to the, to the passion, the talent that's given me and what equals that equals for me now significance in my life.

So, so that'll be my answer.

[00:46:37] Phil: That is so good. That is so good. And I, I need to read that portion of the book to my children when we talk about doing dishes. So I I'm sure we all probably are in that same boat, but Paul, I, you know, you have a parting words before we Say goodbye to our good friend, Jorge.

Yeah. Yeah.

[00:46:54] Paul: Jorge, listen, just very encouraging love, love the, the work that God has you doing and just [00:47:00] blessing to you and your family, and just really appreciate your time here on the podcast. And just some, some great stuff, some great overlapping things that, that we're doing here. So I find a lot of encouragement and what you're doing and, and really some great insight into not just the faith piece, but even just the, the leadership.

Pieces of things as well. So appreciate your, your time, Jorge. Great. To great to meet you. No,

[00:47:19] Jorge: thank you guys. I'm really honored for the opportunity. I definitely would love stay connected with you guys would love to learn from you guys again, as a, as a young father that now my kids went from being I'm coach to now, I'm just the dad on their teams.

It's been a beautiful system, but it's been a hard season of learning to back up. And for me personally, I've been journaling and I'm like, man, there has to be resources out there. To help people, especially specifically people of faith that they wanna support the kids. Well, anyway, probably that's a different conversation for another day.

it's been rough guys. It's been rough, but I'm saying in a good way, in a good way. Yeah. Which I'll share this pretty quick have conversation with my son the other day, I should have, he was nine and we're talking something about practice, [00:48:00] something about like, Hey, we're hard or this blah, blah, blah. And, and in the middle of the conversation and I'm forgetting what was the challenge I gave him or the question.

And then he look at me and he said, no, dad, I. It's just that, you know, soccer is not everything in my life. Hmm. And as soon as he said that, and we, we are actually about to pray to go to bed, I'm on his bed, on my knee. And then he look at me and he said that, and dude, he broke me in a beautiful way. Like I, and I say, son, thank you.

I say, God spoke to you to remind me, like soccer, just a give let's enjoy it, but let's keep. Where it needs to be. Yeah. Anyway, so I put something out there for you guys that if you have any resources to allow me to, to be a, a good friend, a good partner to my children as they experience soccer that will be helpful.

[00:48:45] Phil: Yeah, no doubt. We'll have a lot more conversations. Hopefully we'll be able to work together on some different things. You know, I, I have no doubt. This is just the beginning of a, of a long, long friendship for the all three of us. And so thank you again, Jorge. I, [00:49:00] I appreciate you a ton, a little. I've gotten to know you, I'm, I'm super encouraged, you know, blessed that that God brought us together.

And so, yeah. Thank you again for being, being a part

[00:49:10] Jorge: of this show. Thank you guys for the opportunity. Thank you so much. Have a. Yeah,

[00:49:14] Phil: absolutely. All right, folks. Well, thanks again for being a part of this conversation. As you know, you can go check out everything we talked about on this show. We will have the link to upper 90.

We'll have the link to that video that that we mentioned earlier. We'll also have the link to warrior way soccer. You can check that out warrior way, to hear, you know, to read about, to hear, about, to watch what Paul and Marcy are doing. And you can also follow them on Instagram with all kinds of cool stuff there.

Coaching the bigger. Dot com is where you can find out about that program that we've started and disc training, if you want, if you wanna learn about that, you can email me. And that link is also at the show notes, how soccer explains is where you can find all of that. So, folks, thanks again for being a part of this as always, we hope that everything you [00:50:00] learn on the show will help you be a better leader, a better parent, a better spouse, better coach, better in everything you do.

And that you'll continually remind. That soccer does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.