Fernando’s shot from the edge of the area hits the crossbar in the 10th minute. / Ñito Salas

Torremolinos team make town proud

The fourth division Costa del Sol football team, comprised of workers and students, made history despite their 3-0 defeat to Sevilla FC

MATINA RIVAS / BORJA GUTTIÉREZ

The Torremolinos team’s 3-0 defeat by Sevilla FC in the Copa del Rey competition on Wednesday evening may be seen as a disappointing result, but for the unassuming fourth division club, the significance of this match goes beyond the final score.

The setup of the Torremolinos Youth CF team could not be further than that of Sevilla’s. There are no multi-million-euro salaried players and the team has a humble fourth division ranking. The Torremolinos team members juggle work, education and training while showing unwavering commitment and devotion to their sport and team. Each week manager Ibón Arrieta carefully trawls through the work schedules and timetables of his players to make sure that training exists harmoniously alongside preexisting commitments.

Javi Amaya, one of the team’s long standing members who has played for eight consecutive seasons, is an airport information assistant at Malaga Airport. His schedule proves one of the hardest to coordinate. “My shifts are given to me weekly, so every week it is an epic challenge negotiating with my colleagues, who fortunately are very supportive and are happy to do favours for me so that I can train every day,” Javi explains.

“It’s very stressful starting each week not knowing what lies ahead. Some weeks it is not possible to switch my shifts so I train another time or try to fit everything in and miss out on sleep,” he says.

Amador Zarco’s commitments are also varied. The student studying Sport Science, dedicates his mornings to football training. “As soon as it’s 1pm, I start studying because I always have work to do. This week has been more intense as I’ve had final exams,” he explains. He remarks on his manager’s flexibility when it comes to reconciling work commitments and training. “He has been through what we are currently facing, so he empathises with our situation. Even if we played in a higher league, I think he would stay the same.”

Miguelito, a hairdresser who combines the sport with his passion for hair styling highlights the fact that it is hard to make it big in the world of football, so for those who are not elite professionals, it is necessary to make the ends meet in other ways. “The professionals live and breathe football, but as we are not on that level, we have to do other things. In my case, it is hairdressing,” Miguelito says.

At 6.45pm on that great day, the Torremolinos players left their base at the Hotel Pez Espada and were greeted at the town hall by mayor Margarita El Cid (who then went to watch the game). They then went by bus to the pitch at El Pozuelo, escorted by around twenty biker fans who were wrapped in banners and flags in the team’s colours. On arrival they were welcomed by hundreds of supporters cheering “Give it your all! The whole town is with you!”

Many Torremolinos fans wore commemorative shirts and scarves. / Ñito Salas

While a 3-0 defeat may not look impressive on paper, this was indeed a historical moment for the team. The fact that the club made it to this stage was an achievement in itself. The match was the first ever they had played against a first division team. And not just any team. Sevilla FC has one of the highest budgets in Spanish football and has won the UEFA Europa League six times.

Torremolinos Youth CF’s credentials may look meagre in the shadow of Andalucia’s most successful club, but in reality this match was a testament to their strong devotion, optimism and positive attitude, characteristics that won’t receive a trophy but are nonetheless important.

While the blow of the whistle marked the end of the crucial 90 minutes, the joy and the making of history will stick with the players and the people of the Torremolinos forever.