San Salvador - The rowing machines were roaring as the meters piled up on the ergo's digital displays - as the training session came to an end, Dan Beery, was smiling. Beery, has returned to El Salvador as part of an ongoing exchange program between the nations independent ESA Olympic Committee and American nonprofit American300.org
Aside from bringing a wealth of knowledge, Beery aimed to instill a message of hope to the ESA National Rowing Federation athletes and staff, which up until recently received financial support from the government. “Over the past several years the El Salvador Olympic Committee has experienced a complete defunding by the government,” says Beery, who is on his second ONETeam American300 Envoy to the country, adding, “just weeks ago it was announced that rowing along with several other sports federations would receive zero support from the government - that’s rough for athletes like Roberto Lopez, a 2012 ESA Olympian who is attempting to make his 2nd Olympic Team in Rio Brazil this summer.”
|ESA Olympic Committee's Felipe Flores|
with Coach Bob Soldivera and Olympic
and World Champoin Dan Beery
According to Beery, the bright light at the end of the tunnel is in the ESA Olympic Committee’s establishment of great coaches across many disciplines that are doing amazing work. Additionally, he points to private and corporate supporters, that despite the government’s removal of tax deductible donations - are still contributing funds to the non-government organization ESA Olympic Committee.
“We aren’t down here to fund programming, and we have no political agenda, our mission is to create a spirit of friendship and mutual understanding that breeds growth and ultimate success,” say Rob Powers, founder of ONETeam American300 Envoys, adding, “Sean Colgan, a US Olympian turned us on to the struggles the ESA Olympic Committee is facing. As a result, we’re bringing athletes and coaches down to show these ESA Olympic Committee members that there are US Olympic Team members who stand beside them... that the Olympic Family stands together.”
Standing together with athletes who live and train in one of the most dangerous urban cities in the world (over 730 El Salvadorians were killed in January of this year alone) isn’t for everyone and the US Department of State's travel warning for El Salvador continues to provide a stern warning to Americans to be very smart when traveling here.
|Coach Soldivera, Rob Powers and Dan Beery|
On this most recent visit, Beery and Powers were joined by Air Force Veteran and US Shooting Coach Bob Soldivera who was surprised by what he encountered. He pointed out the level of professionalism displayed by the ESA Shooting Federation. “They have the right staff, coaches, and athletes - what they don’t have is the financial and government inner-agency support to secure the necessary levels of equipment to develop at a rate equal to their talent levels.”
With the El Salvador Olympic Committee sending close to a dozen athletes to the Rio Summer Games in August, the American nonprofit’s goal is to work with Eduardo Palomo, President of the ESA Olympic Committee and his staff to see that number double by the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
|Coach Soldivera with ESA Shooting Federation Athletes|
Bob Soldivera sees it this way: “I’ve been coaching athletes for over 40 years here in America, athletes that have an endless supply of ammunition - the best that money can buy. El Salvador Olympic hopefuls are on a rationed competition ammunition program, have air rifles that haven’t been overhauled in years - but they are still punching out the bullseye in training. There are 2020 Olympians all over the place down here, they just need some help.”
American300 is a non-government 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of increasing the resiliency of our US Government Service Members, their families and areas in which they live and operate in around the world. To date, ONETeam American300 Envoy work in El Salvador has been made possible through a grant from the Colgan Family Foundation.