Every team needs a collective heartbeat, one full of passion and dedication.
Amongst that heartbeat, every team needs leaders and motivators who can bring the best out of their teammates week in, week out, whether it be through spreading happiness around the group or bringing players together to learn tips on how to improve.
It’s the type of role Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Cristian Dájome has taken on for the group, thanks to his always-present 'alegria' or 'joy' in English.
“I’m happy with how I can help inside and outside the pitch, so happy with that because I always try to transmit to my teammates the same joy that I always maintain,” explained Dájome.
“I try to support them in what they need most, give them a piece of advice across the experiences I’ve had in South America, I’m happy to give back all that experience and that they can transmit it on the pitch when they get to play.”
No matter what, the versatile attacker has lived by the words 'always train at 100 per cent' and is one of the many lessons he transmits across the group.
"The club chose each of us for a reason so we have to give back, work hard, get better everyday to repay the confidence that the club's given us and on the days we have to play, we have to respond in the best way."
A prime example of Dájome’s leadership has been the support he’s given fellow Colombian Déiber Caicedo, who went through one of the lowest moments of his career this past season as he had to undergo surgery on his right knee for a torn meniscus.
"When there's injuries like that, you have to have a lot of patience," said Dájome, as he remembered past injuries he's dealt with during his career.
"One of the best ways he can get back to being the great player he was in the early part of the season before he got injured is by keeping the faith in God, trusting in what's ahead and not looking back on the past. That's what I've tried to transmit to him during this time."
At times, Dájome would even make trips to Caicedo’s house to bring food and offer his support in the days after the surgery and during the recovery.
Dájome was entrusted to wear the captain’s armband at times this past year.
It was something he took plenty of pride in and felt honoured to be chosen when called upon.
“For me, it’s pride, to wear the captain’s armband represents a lot of things and I think I transmit all of them, through my temperament, through how I face challenges, because I always want to win,” said Dájome.
“Those are the things I transmit in the moments when I have the captain’s armband and what I always want to transmit to my teammates.”
The leadership Dájome brought to the group throughout the season paid off, as he helped motivate his teammates during the entirety of the ‘Caps Canadian Championship winning campaign.
In the early days of his time with the ‘Caps, Dájome made it clear he wanted to make history in Vancouver.
Now, with a Canadian Championship medal hanging in his house, he’s achieved one of his many goals and hopes to accomplish more on the pitch.
Off the field, Dájome takes his joyful personality back to his family.
The Colombian, who will be entering his fourth season with the ‘Caps in 2023, has only been able to have his family living in Vancouver since the club’s return to BC Place in August 2021, allowing them to to settle down in the city they've called home.
"My family's super happy, super happy this year they were more connected to the city. The girls were able to be in school consistently without having to move somewhere else and that was the most important, that the girls now have stability and that's what makes us happiest. We're calm with everything and now we get to enjoy the best of this beautiful city that is Vancouver."
Some of their favourite places to visit include Whistler, Granville Island, and Capilano.
On the topic of being happy and staying in Vancouver, as long as he's here, Dájome hopes to bring many more triumphs during his time with the club.
The Colombian will have plenty of chances to do that in 2023, as the 'Caps are set to compete in four competitions - the MLS regular season, Concacaf Champions League, Leagues Cup and the Canadian Championship.
But above all else, Dájome hopes to continue spreading 'alegria' across the group, in order to bring the best out of each of his teammates week-in, week-out.
“For me always, the most essential thing will be the team and while I can transmit positiveness, that everyone is doing well, that we’re always strong mentally, that I can transmit joy to the rest of the group, that for me is the best feeling.”
Player Profile Series
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- Pedro Vite reflects on lessons learnt following first full season in Vancouver
- Déiber Caicedo primed to "come back stronger" in 2023
- Isaac Boehmer thankful for experience gained in 2022
- Matteo Campagna grateful for WFC chances in 2022
- Ryan Gauld aims to continue bringing offensive creativity to 'Caps attack
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