It is with heavy heart we announce the passing of Genaro "Gino" Garcia von Lembcke. The proud American immigrant filled with rich Peruvian culture who has left a legacy in the lives of many through futbol, food, and family. For those of you who do not know, Columbus Futsal may have never been founded without our beloved Papi Gino.
Roots were planted, when the first futsal in Columbus was played back in 1976 at The Josephinum Pontifical College under the direction Father Garcia and Gino Garcia Von Lembcke. Little did we know that would help to shape what futsal in Columbus, Ohio is today.
Just five years prior in 1971, Gino, with less than $100 in his pocket, bravely moved to the United States from Callao, Peru with his late wife Rosita and two young children Ignacio and Rosa. In search of the American Dream, he did not fall short.
Gino would go on to do many things here in Columbus. Family grew. Businesses grew.
How many of you have dined at Jack n' Benny's or Garcia's Internazionale? If so, you have probably had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Gino. You could find him getting coffee early in the mornings at the corner of Hudson and High St. inside the well-sought after family-owned breakfast diner. If you were lucky enough to experience Garcia's in its hay-day, then it is likely you enjoyed a "Garcia's Special" at the bar or the second-to-none Peruvian delicacies that were homemade by Mami Rosa in the kitchen.
Conversations with Gino were often about hard work and the lessons that life teaches us. If you had a military or political background, it was likely that you were going to be there for a while as those were some of Gino's favorite intellectual subjects. Not surprising--the man spoke seven languages and could make anyone feel welcome, respected and appreciated.
In 2002, Gino Garcia and his son, Iggy Garcia, put together Columbus' first and only International soccer tournament, The Sensenbrenner Friendship Cup, to honor the former Columbus Mayor, Maynard E. "Jack" Sensenbrenner. The tournament took place in conjunction with Columbus Recreation and Parks Dept at Tuttle Park near OSU campus, the very spot Columbus Futsal would be founded just a few years later. The Sensenbrenner Cup was completed in partnership with Cantolao USA and Academia Deportiva Cantolao. AD Cantolao is the largest soccer academy in Peru and is closely tied to the Garcia and Mandriotti families who managed youth soccer in Columbus under Cantolao in the 1990s and 2000s. Current Columbus Futsal owner, Dante Garcia (grandson of Gino), spent those decades playing futbol for AD Cantolao in the United States and Peru. Copa de la Amistad is the International friendship cup that the Sensenbrenner Cup was modeled after. The International tournament in Peru is often credited to where Leo Messi was discovered. In fact, Dante Garcia and Leo Messi both competed at Copa de la Amistad in Peru in 1997.
So, how did Columbus Futsal birth from Papi Gino and the Garcia family? Papi Gino would always say:
"You go to Peru, you learn!"
And that is exactly what they did. They learned culture, music, recipes, futsal, soccer, indigenous practices, landscapes, history and more. With many trips to Peru combined, Iggy and Dante were able to bring the culture they experienced back to Columbus with each visit. Opportunities from playing and coaching at AD Cantolao in Peru, proved to be positive and very influential for not only them but Columbus residents still today!
In 2004, Iggy and Dante Garcia began playing futsal and teaching youth players the fast-paced game.
In 2006, Iggy, with support of his father Gino Garcia, founded Columbus Futsal officially. Initially this began as pickup play by the graffiti mural at Tuttle Park, using two trash bins as goals. 1 point if you hit the bin, 2 points if you made it inside. Since then we have transformed the space with official futsal lines and goals while keeping the South American style and atmosphere alive and free for all to join. In addition, CRPD and Columbus Futsal have helped to bring 8 official futsal courts to City of Columbus Athletic Complexes.
In 2014, Dante Garcia and his wife, Malissa, took over the reins and have risen Columbus Futsal to the next level! Today, Columbus Futsal houses a men's professional team, is 1 0f 16 USYF Development Academies, as well as, a locally sanctioned league. Columbus Futsal provides thousands of hours of instructional play and free play for thousands of local kids per year. This is something that Gino Garcia was very proud of and felt enamored to have witnessed.
Futsal is not a buzzword here. Futsal is family. Today, Columbus Futsal is a reality because of the support of family. Thank you, Gino Garcia von Lembcke for supporting this dream decades ago! Thank you for bringing your culture to "America's Opportunity City." Columbus will never forget you! May your legacies continue to live through all of US.
Saturday's NFPL season home opener against ABK will honor Gino Garcia von Lembcke with a special tribute. All are welcome to attend to honor him with us: https://bit.ly/2CUoIfL