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Parla Escuela - The underrated haven of youth football (3rd October, 2017)

This is a piece about Parla Escuela which I wrote almost two years back - when I dug it out I knew it had to come here.

For the first time, Parla Escuela are in the fourth division, and will play Rayo B in exactly one month and one day. It's important to note that until this year they weren't even the biggest club in Parla, AD Parla were in the fourth division for a long time until their relegation this summer. Rafael Benítez, Sergio Pachón and Roberto Rojas have all played for AD Parla.




Imagine you are in Madrid and your inner compass tells you to go south. You board the C-4 train and south you go. It’s been a long day and you go to sleep… Suddenly, the train stops and it’s the last station - you check your watch and 40 minutes have gone by without warning. Your inner compass tingles like crazy because you are near.

In fact, you are here. You’ve reached home…

CP Parla Escuela is not a club you’ve heard of. Neither is it particularly making headlines for any sporting reasons - until last year it’s a stable mid-table club in the fifth tier of Spanish football. They don’t aim for promotion or relegation. They don’t aim for playing against big teams and they don’t even aim for a large fanbase.

Their aim is to see other clubs prosper.

Parla is located on the outskirts of Metropolitan Madrid. Far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Far away from the best football played in the city. And far away from the media spotlight. It’s not just that they are far away, they are far enough.

Far enough to develop their own school of thought.

Club Polideportivo Parla Escuela was formed in 1989, and since then it has contributed massively to the sports education of children and young people, mainly residents in their town. It is a private non-profit club, who practice and promote sport and physical activity.

And they do this in the most simple way. Their aim is #SoydelaEscuela - I’m from the school. They want that every child is educated.

They also want that every child is educated well - they believe that sport is a mixture of values - effort, respect, tolerance, solidarity, teamwork, sacrifice, overcoming adversity - and social rules, such as the acceptance of the game’s regulations and rules, which they feel is useful to every child.

But here’s the catch - they are disillusioned by sports competitions, as they feel that winning should be a secondary objective. They believe that excessive pressure by parents or coaches can make young athletes lose faith in sports. They believe in working hard for the team, and even encourage parents to get involved. Some of the suggestions they have for parents include: to encourage their children to enjoy and not care about the result. To applaud the team and not just their children. To not pick on individual mistakes. To respect the referee’s decisions - as he is learning too. To encourage team effort.

Small things, admittedly.

But it’s working - the club prides itself for a youth system that sees their graduates play for some of the best clubs in Madrid. Nearly every professional team in Madrid - Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Getafe, and Leganés - has had a player from Parla Escuela play for them and do well.

And outside Madrid as well - Tomás Pina comes to mind. Real Madrid midfield prospect Javier Muñoz is playing on loan at Lorca, and has a big future ahead of him...

You’ve reached home. You’ve reached the school where you were raised. And you shout, with pride, soy de la escuela.


Because - even though it’s 40 minutes from Madrid’s airport - it’s where you belong.

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