A pioneering step forward for American football in Malaga

The women train twice a week at the José Gallardo pitch in Portada Alta.
The women train twice a week at the José Gallardo pitch in Portada Alta. / FRANCIS SILVA
  • Los Corsarios is just the second club in Andalucía to create a women's team

There are just over ten of them, with ages ranging from 14 to 34, and they have little experience but great enthusiasm for this sport, which is still barely known in Spain.

It is only two years since the first male senior American football team, Los Corsarios, was formed in Malaga and last year they played for the first time in the Andalusian League, which was won by Los Potros, from Fuengirola. Now this club, which came from nowhere and made itself known via social media, has decided to take a step further: Las Corsarias.

Not only will they be pioneers in Malaga province, this is only the second ever women's American football team in Andalucía, after the Granada Lions, which was formed seven years ago.

It is an ambitious and complicated project, because this sport is so little-known in Spain, even though the number of licences is constantly growing.

In the past two years (2015 to 2017) the numbers issued rose from 5,127 to 6,408, and there are now 148 clubs compared with 110 two years ago, according to figures from the Sports Council. The number of licences issued to women rose from 653 to 863, without taking Las Corsarias into account because they haven't started to compete yet.

These figures may be small on a national level, especially compared with the more than 21,000 football clubs, but they are increasing and for that reason the Andalusian Federation has decided to include a new junior competition this year, for mixed teams.

"We think it is great that some of our girls, who are already playing really well and want to take this seriously, can start to compete," says one of the senior team coaches, Sara Prados.

Sara, who is from Zaragoza and plays for Granada Lions, came to Malaga last year to do a Masters degree in Illustration at the university. After arriving, she started to hear the name Los Corsarios.

"When I came here I saw a commitment in this team that I had never seen before. It had only been going a year and had around 80 members, between juniors and seniors," she says. Without losing any time, and although she knew there was no women's team, Sara started to train with the team while she was in Malaga and took a course in refereeing so she could become even more involved. She and the two other coaches, Rafa Márquez and Sergio Cañete, were behind the creation of the women's team and are in charge of basic training.

"The first ones came because their partners or relatives were in the male team and the others learned about it on social media, which is also how the male team became known," explains Rafa Márquez.

With regard to the first objectives of the new team, he explains that: "Initially we are going to train them, do things properly and then create a team of seven. We will start to play in competitions, for example against the Granada Lions." Although there will only be seven in the women's team, the rules will still be the same as for the men, who play with nine in the Andalusian League, apart from play-offs and finals, when there are 11 (the original format).

Under construction

The process of attracting new members is still open, and the aim is to build a strong team which can become a benchmark, like the one in Granada which, despite the difficulties in maintaining the team, still hopes to find others to play against in Andalucía.

Aurora Barranco, who has been one of their players from the start and forms part of the Andalusian Federation's Women and Sport Department, says: "Malaga, thanks to Los Corsarios, is now moving forward, but hopefully before long we can say that every male team has a women's team too and those of us who want to compete don't have to travel to Zaragoza in order to play in a match."

In fact, the situation of her club is very unusual. As they are unable to find a rival in this region and cannot aspire to the national league, they are seeking a place in a Valencian League which includes not only local teams but some from Madrid and Zaragoza, among other places. It is a type of parallel competition between the first women's American football teams to be created in Spain.

"For the moment, we will be working on creating a tournament in which the teams from Granada and Malaga can compete, but what we want to see in a few years is a women's league in Andalucía," says Aurora Barranco.

This is an initial step which Las Corsarias of Malaga have already dared to take, although there is still a great deal of work ahead of them. They hope they will be an incentive so that in the near future more women will continue to break clichés and opt for sports which, as well as being less well-known, are still associated with men in people's minds.