The Fuengirola Potros in action during their season-opening defeat against the Murcia Cobras. / sur

Fuengirola Potros, the only Andalusian team in Spain's American football elite

As the club gets ready to celebrate its tenth anniversary in February, there’s hope for the team going into the future

SHAY CONAGHAN

The Fuengirola Potros are an American football team based on, as the name suggests, the Costa del Sol, and who play in Spain's top tier. Next month, the club will be celebrating their tenth anniversary at their first home game of the 2022 season.

The Potros were founded in 2011, initially as a side from Coín, though it would take another year for the club to gather enough players and budget to kick-start their journey. They are the only professional American football team in Malaga province, and since moving to Fuengirola for the 2013-14 season, their growth has led them to be the most important side in the region.

Despite some turbulence in their initial years, the Potros managed to win the Andalusian League in 2016, 2017 and 2018, before making the big step up to the Serie A in the National American Football League (LNFA), the sport's highest level in Spain, thanks to a restructure of the divisions by the Spanish governing body.

After three full seasons among Spain's elite, the Potros have managed to survive and maintain their place in the division. The Fuengirola club are now eager to improve during the 2022 season.

They got off to a bad start, however, with a defeat to the Murcia Cobras in their season opener. Head coach Nacho Ponce admitted that it wasn't the result they wanted. "We know which areas we need to improve to become a better team. I'm optimistic because this bump in the road happened early in the season," he said.

Once the team gets over that bump, the Potros' director of football operations, Jeremy Meyer, is confident that they can do more.

"It's only the first game of the season and we have no plans to sound the alarm just yet," he said. "We have added new players and drawn up new plays that the team needs time to practise."

This year their objectives remain the same. "From the club's point of view, we always want to win and to make it to the play-offs," Meyer said.

Meyer's job as director of football is an important one, though the spotlight isn't often cast on the figure. "My role is to ensure that the head coach and his staff can concentrate on coaching and working with the players on a day-to-day basis," he explained. "Any other distractions around that, I take on."

Impatient to start

Born in Norway, Meyer had roles in USA Football and the US National football team before his time at the club, which began a few months ago. "I was impatient to start a new chapter in my career. The club and their vision are in perfect harmony with my ambition, and I can't wait to go to the stadium for the first time" he said.

"When I met and figured out how talented the players and staff are here, I was determined to build, alongside them, something great."

As for the club's future, Meyer believes in making it bigger and better. "We are growing and improving every day. We need to get the team out to a wider audience. I spent two years here before I found out the area had a team," he said. "Increasing the team's exposure is of high priority to me and the club."

A stepping stone to the United States

One of the club’s players, Vito Moriana, was recently signed by an American football college team, a clear indicator that team members can make the jump across the pond.

Meyer hopes that Vito’s story is just the beginning for others at the Potros. “I believe that being a pathway for players to play in the US is a strong possibility in the future. They can also make the NFL International Pathway program,” he explained.

The club has also just signed Mexican defensive back Gerhard Ruiz from Mexican team Leones Anáhuac. “He’s a very talented defensive back, with plenty of experience at all levels in Mexico despite being 26,” said Ponce. Ruiz will join the team and will make his debut on 6 February against Osos Rivas, in Fuengirola.