Lionel Messi: A Biography – A Genius of Soccer

From Carlos Gardel and Eva Peron to Maradona and Lionel Messi

“He (Lionel Messi) is the best player in the world by some distance”, Arsne Wenger, the coach of the F.C. Arsenal, has proclaimed of the five-foot-eight-inch tall, Argentine-born football star, “He’s (like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make”.

As elsewhere in Latin America, much of Argentina’s sporting history has been dominated by football — known simply as soccer in the States– since the 1920s. After Argentina’s military strongman Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo, a hated tyrant, declared top priority to win the FIFA Global Cup in the late 1970s, the nation’s footballers invaded the world with a host of global awards and trophies. On June 25, 1978, Mario Kempes and his fellow players lifted the winner’s Cup on home soil upon scoring an overwhelming win against a Peruvian team led by an Argentine-born goalkeeper (6-0) in the semis. Within a year, in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, the South American contingent,spearheaded by Diego Armando Maradona, was regarded as the best junior team on the Planet at the expense of the former Soviet Union/USSR. Shortly thereafter, Argentina was one of the “huge favorites” in the men’s football tournament prior to joining the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. Three years on, its national side came close to winning the IV Junior Global Championship.

On June 29, 1986, Los Celestes, as the national squad is known around the globe, placed first in the FIFA Cup in the United Mexican States; One of the most memorable matches ever seen in World Cup history was played there as Argentina beat England–Maradona and his team-mates tried to win on the field what their countrymen had lost in the 1982 Anglo-Argentine Falklands War. Already, in 1990, once again Maradona put Argentina in the final of the FIFA Cup on Italian soil. In the space of six years, from 1995 through 2005, the national contingent was four-time winner of the Under-20 World tournament. It was around this time that name Messi appeared on the scene.

Argentine-born Messi,who is dubbed ” the Flea”, is a strong and powerful forward who plays both in FC Barcelona (since 2003) and Argentina’s national squad (2006).Curiously, he has spent his entire career in Spanish club (nearly 10 years), working in a variety of teams (Under-15, U-17, U-19, as well as other squads). Messi has become almost indispensable to his club (known popularly as “Barca”)-he is the backbone of Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation. Nevertheless, he loves to play football with the Argentine side, having refused to be a member of the Spanish national team despite his strong links to European nation. As well as being an Argentine-born person, Messi, of Italian background, is a Spaniard citizen since the mid-2000s. From 2005 through 2011, Messi collected over seventy individual awards. Indeed, his success as a sportsman is largely due to his persistence and hard discipline. According to Paris-based magazine France Football, Messi is the world’s top paid footballer. Besides all that, the center forward —a soccer gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics– has gained international stature as a champion for the rights of children.

Although Lionel Andres Messi, known occasionally as “the ghost center forward”,is considered one of the greatest soccer players to have never won a FIFA World Cup (together with Ferenc Puskas from Hungary and Liberia’s George Weah), he is already one of the male athletes most famous on the global sporting map. In the Western Hemisphere, Messi, who is often compared to Maradona, has inspired thousands of young would-be footballers to follow their dreams,especially in poverty-stricken regions. But not only that, because of him more people know about Argentina –which has a long-standing history of man-made disasters— than ever before. On his home soil, his status is only comparable to three national celebrities: Argentina’s postwar First Lady Eva Perón -made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita— Maradona, and Carlos Gardel, nicknamed the “songbird of Buenos Aires” and who helped popularize tango around the world.

Lionel Messi: A Rough Diamond

Lionel Messi’s life changed forever when he was plucked out of the Spanish-speaking republic of Argentina by a talent scout to play for Barca, which is often referred to as one of the top clubs around the globe- it holds hundreds of millions of soccer fans outside its own borders, from Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau to San Marino and the Feroe islands.

You cannot become a top sportsman (woman) if you don’t achieve notable results, if you are not a hard worker, and before all, if you are not able to overcome the obstacles in your life. In fact, Lionel Messi knows firsthand about this. Like his fellow Argentine Maradona, Messi is small -who stands 5 feet 8 inches tall- for the position of forward, but he overcame this with a prodigious ability and exceptional intelligence on the filed, earning the nickname “Flea”. Over his athletic career, he also has defeated other hurdles: numerous injuries, especially during Rikjaard’s direction. Throughout his years as a boy, his country underwent one of the deepest recessions in the Americas. But this wasn’t all. Because of an illness, he almost gave up the sport. By 2008, there were troubles to send Messi to the Summer Games due to his dual citizenship and status as a professional footballer in Barcelona. Against club wishes, however, Messi,the greatest professional footballer of all time, arrived at Beijing with the Argentine squad (as a defending champion). In the Olympic arena, soon afterwards, he and his colleagues were champions, making history in the People’s Republic of China. Currently, Barcelona won’t sell Messi for anything in the world.

Messi bases his success on being able to offer a play based on passion, determination, hard discipline, and an exceptional ability. No player can ever be categorized as invincible in football world, but Messi is probably the most talented man ever to carry a ball. In all his matches, Messi plays as if were a game for the FIFA World Championship.

Rosario: The Birth Of A Footballer

Born in the Argentinian city of Rosario (Santa Fe Province), on June 24 1987 – a year after his country captured the FIFA World Tournament in the Mexican metropolis— Messi is one of the fourth children born to Jorge Horacio Messi and his wife, the former Celia Mara Cucittini. Curiously, he is one of the four most prominent individuals from Rosario, alongside Libertad Lamarque (performer), Valeria Mazza (supermodel),and César Luis Menotti (football coach).

His father had been a factory steel worker. In fact, Messi inherited his football genes from his father, who was coach during a brief period. Meanwhile, Messi’s mother is an admirer of notable people and wanted his children to have famous names. Celia Mara named his son Lionel after her favorite idol Lionel Richie, a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter whose pop chart-topping hits in the 1980s included “Truly”, “You Are”, and “All Night Long”.

Like most of Argentina’s sportsmen as Octavio Dazzan (cycling), David Nalbandian (tennis), and Manu Ginibili (basketball), Lionel reflects the Italian roots of his motherland. His father’s family is from Italy’s city of Ancona who came to the Latin American place during a large-scale European immigration at the turn of the 19th century. This Spanish-trained professional footballer, the high-scoring forward of Barcelona, has two brothers, Rodrigo and Matas, and a sister, Maria Sol. On the other hand, his cousins Maximiliano and Emmanuel Biancucchi are also soccer players.

His sporting life goes back to times when Messi grew up playing football in Rosario, a land famous for their athletic passion and hosted the World Championships for both professional and amateurs, including the Men’s Football World Cup (1978) and Men’s Volleyball Global Tournament (1982);Messi can take credit for that because he has been named official Ambassador for Rosario’s 2019 Pan American bid. Under this Olympic atmosphere, Jorge Horacio Messi made no secret of his ambitions for his son.

Like several Latino champs –among them Edwin Vásquez Cam (shooting) and Nancy López (golf) — Messi was introduced to sport by his father. Before joining the Newell’s Old Boy’s youth side, Lionel -when he was only 5 years old— played in the local team of Grandioli, where his father was coach. On that occasion, the smaller Lionel was a goalie on the football team. At the time, he had a lot of athletic skills, but not the technical skills. Shortly after, while Lionel demonstrated his talent in the under-10 competitions in his homeland and abroad in the middle of the 1990s, the Argentine boy, at the age of 11, was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Since then, prior to begin an athletic career as a junior player in the following years, he had to beat back an illness, whose treatment cost $ 900 a month. But in spite of this problem, his enthusiasm for football was unbelievable.

A Golden Opportunity

Recognizing Messi’s precocious talent, Carles Rexach, a sports administrator, promised him that FC Barcelona would pay his treatment if he decideto play for the famous club.The answer was “yes”, of course. As a consequence of this, Messi and his parents moved permanently to Barcelonese soil, a football-mad place. On that occasion, the youngster was sad to leave his home city. However, the Spaniard place had a special significance to Messi: There, on May 3, 1980, his fellow Argentine Maradona signed a six-year contract with the traditional side.

The travel proved to be a turning point in his life. In the capital and largest city of Spain’s Catalan region — one of Europe’s first class cities— Messi received a scholarship to play football in Barca’s athletic academy, alongside Xabi Alonso, Gerard Piqu, Andrs Iniesta and other boys. The Club’s Youth Academy (one of Western Europe’s major sports academies), was set up with one primary goal in mind: Scans up to 300 young talents and transform some of them into champions. The youth squads have always preoccupied Barcelona’s sports leaders. In recent decades, the Spaniard club sent scouts to Latin America looking for promising youth athletes.

As well as being the nation’s second largest city behind Madrid, Barcelona is a place that is tied closely to the Olympic Movement, physical activity and all of the values that sport represent in the 21st Century. This corner of the planet, host to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, is an international grandstand with recreational spaces, sports academies, and state-of-the-art Olympian facilities on a par with other sporting cities such as London (UK), Singapore City, Doha (Qatar), Montreal (Canada), Dubai ( United Arab Emirates), and Los Angeles (CA). Additionally, it was home of Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and among the world’s most gifted and influential sports administrators.

During a breakout year, after overcoming his illness, Messi, who was about four-foot-seven-inch tall, become one of Barca’s top male players in the Boys’ Division of the Spanish Football Championships. There, he had been outstanding throughout the event, scoring over 35 goals and setting numerous records for his age group. A couple of years later, under the aegis of Spain’s Club, Messi improved rapidly his play and was promoted to the junior team’s starting lineup, competing in the under-19 tournaments.

Encouraged by Frank Rijkaard

As a young teen, he got the first opportunity to used his talent as a member of Barca’s official contingent when he made his first appearance in the friendly against Porto on November 16, 2003. Following his initial impact, scoring 22 goals in the junior competitions, the up-and-coming Messi, by late 2003, was moved up to the reserves of the club: The squad “C”, prior to winning the right to play for Barcelona B side, a second division club. Messi, as a young athlete, acquired enough expertise to participate in senior soccer events, face-to-face with finest professional players from Europe and abroad. It was an excellent school for him, of course.

After watching his athletic performance in the traditional junior contests on Spaniard soil, Frank Rijkaard, Barca’s major coach at the time, put his eyes on Messi –perhaps his most famous pupil–and did not doubt that he would be the next greatest footballer on the Planet —Perhaps a Maradona. Nonetheless,the high-flying coach was not the first to be excited by the potential of Messi. On the other hand, Rijkaard backed up a number of young players, including Carles Puyol and Vctor Valds.

At the age of 17, Messi had a chance to show his athletic potential. Fortunately,he did not disappoint to Barca’s sports officials and soccer fans when he entered the highest level in Spanish championship, by passing many senior footballers and becoming the youngest player in the domestic soccer league. It was one of the greatest moments of Messi’s life on the soccer field.

Encouraged by his coach, Frank Rijkaard, Messi, months later, made his mark with the club by scoring his first senior goal against Albacete Balompi, becoming the youngest footballer from Barcelona to ever score in the domestic football league, among the world’s most competitive sports tournaments. By any standards it is a phenomenal achievement. In fact, Rijkaard made him the focus of the team’s new offfensive scheme. Later on, Messi spoke with gratitude about Rijkaard, “I will never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen”. Without a doubt, he was considered one of the great prospects of the world football.

A Champion In the Netherlands

By the mid-2000s,Messi brought home his country’s fifth junior global title, considered a huge success in the South American republic; It was a history-making day for the Argentinean Football Association (AFA). Messi began his work with his homeland when Argentina’s sports officials called on him to join the 2005 junior World Cup team. Always a heavy favorite with the Dutch fans, the national side, sparked by Messi, came first in the global contest in front of the Amsterdam (Netherlands’ capital) crowd, an international sporting platform to numerous unknown footballers. Thereupon, Messi collected two special awards in Holland: The Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.

Futbol Club Barcelona: 2005- 2006 Season

The breakthrough season for the team and Messi came in 2005-06. Three of Barcelona’s Spanish titles can be attributed to Messi: Domestic League, Cataluña Cup, and Spanish Supercup— beginning a new period of success for Spain’s most popular club and topping the TV sports rankings in the European nation. On that occasion, Messi also amassed three individual trophies.

On September 27, 2005,before a crowd of several fans and spectators at Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium (among the world’s major football stadia), star youngster Messi made his debut as a local player in the European League Championship (against Italy’s Udinese). He competed with Barca until his injury, six months later. In spite of playing without Messi, however, the club earned the famous Champions League, one of the four big international events on Earth, along with the Olympic Games (Winter and Summer), and the FIFA World Cup.

In the same year, the prolific scorer Messi was named as Europe’s best young player by Tuttosport (a magazine from Italy), gaining the Golden Boy Trophy, by passing several sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Curiously, Spain is home of one of the world’s largest populations of foreign-born athletes(along with France, Canada and the oil-rich Kingdom of Qatar) such as Eulogio Martínez (Paraguay, football), Nina Zhivanevskaya (Russia, swimming), Juan Domingo de la Cruz (Argentina, basketball), Glory Alozie (athletics, Nigeria), and Juan Pérez (Cuba, waterpolo). By the end of 2005, Messi was one of the last athletes to become a Spanish citizen (dual citizenship), making him eligible to play as a Spanish player in the National League.

FIFA 2006 World Cup

Historically, Argentina has the honor of being the third Third World country to capture the global contest after Uruguay (1930 & 1950) and Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Due to this tradition and thanks to its world-beating players on European soil, the Argentine football squad had become one of the top favorites to gain the 2006 FIFA Cup, but they finished sixth overall (ahead of three Europeans squads: England, Ukraine and Spain), after losing to host Germany in the quarterfinals. Immediately, Argentina’s soccer fans blamed José Pekerman, national coach, for the defeat against Germany. Why? Incredibly, Messi was excluded to play that game.

Certainly, Messi had dissapointed 2006. Although, he made his long-awaited debut in the World Cup as he led Argentina -two-time winner of the men’s football World Cup (1978 & 1986)– to win its first points following a triumph over Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia). In Germany, he played three of Argentina’s five football matches.

During the 2006 World Cup, Messi became Argentina’s most youngest footballer to attend the FIFA Cup. The following year,Messi and his fellow Argentine players finished as runner-ups to Brazil in the 2007 America’s Cup on Venezuelan soil.

Spain’s ‘Football War’

Throghout his 2006-07 season, Messi had become a regular player in his European squad, competing on equal terms with senior players and attracting huge numbers of interested fans. It was truly an inspiring moment. However, he withdrew from the Spaniard Football League due to an injury (a game against Real Zaragosa).

With better health and upon spending three months on South American soil, Messi went back to Spain, playing in the match between Barcelona and Racing de Santander. Soon after, he made a hat-trick when his club drawn 3-3 with Real Madrid, a match between the two most popular teams in Spain (better known as “The Clasico”). Since decades ago, these matches have been labelled the “Spain’s Football War”, attracting the largest average audience in the European country and numerous regions around the world, especially in soccer nations. In fact, it is a battle which is being won by Barca’s team in recent years.

Messi’s Hand of God Goal

As he entered his 20s, by 2007, he picked up a total of 14 individual trophies inside and outside Spain, a new personal record over his professional career. But this wasn’t all. Evoking the style of Argentina’s former star Maradona, Messi, was dubbed “Messidona” in the course of an impressive career as a sportsman.

During a never-to-be-forgotten game, on April 18, 2007, the Barcelonese club got two goals from Messi to defeat Getafe CF in the semis of the Copa del Rey; one goal inspired comparisons to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God ‘goal against England’s squad at the 1986 Mexico City World Tournament — it appeared that Messi may have knocked the ball into the net with his fist. In fact, this was great news both for Barcelona and the whole country. Nobody could imagine this feat. His fellow player Deco said, “It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life”.

2007-2008 Campaign

Over the course of the season,Messi was in the spotlight as he was regarded as the world’s top footballer by experts, sportswriters, coaches, players, and sports administrators. Meanwhile, Messi was elected as one of the 14th Best Male Athletes in 2007 by a total of 422 AIPS (International Sports Press Association) members from 94 countries–ahead of South Africa’s rugby star Bryan Habana and Rafael Nadal, a tennis player from Spain.

After making a record in soccer world —scored five goals over a span of seven days– Messi helped Barcelona to become one of the four leaders in the first class Spaniard championship. He was the answer to their lack of versatility in attacking positions. In fact, he sees Barcelona through the eyes of a lover. Additionally, he scored also two goals in the UEFA Champions League. In beginning 2008, Messi celebrated his 100th match.

In March, the star athlete was forced to drop out of the Champions League because of an injury. Following over a month, he returned to the line-up, competing with Cristiano Ronaldo, considered among the globe’s finest footballers. Under Messi’s guidance, however, the Barcelonese club was eliminated from the European championship, showing the effects of his injury. Certainly, Messi had not a strong performance in this season, winning only two unofficial events (Beckenbauer Cup in Germany and Joan Gamper Trophy). In July of that year, on the other hand, Messi was appointed as the captain for the first time in a friendly match against Scotland’s Dundee United.

Subsequently, the Barcelonese soccer club paid tribute to Messi’s perseverance: Wearing the shirt number ten for the first time (historically given to the leading scorer), the number worn by former stars such as Romario Souza of Brazil, Hugo Sotil of Peru and Maradona, Messi began a new period in Barca, few weeks prior to 2008 the Summer Games.

Messi At the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Argentina earned its first soccer medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Games, after falling to Uruguay’s side in the gold-medal match. Then, the national contingent was asked to replace Uruguay in the 1976 Montreal Games, but it did not accept.

During the Centennial Games in the States, on August 3, 1996, the Argentine team was runner-up to Nigeria (sub-Saharan Africa)-matched its performance in the 1920s. In the 26th Olympiad, the silver medalists were Roberto Ayala, José Chamot, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Sensini and Diego Pablo Simeone, Ariel Ortega, Hernan Crespo, and Claudio López, among others footballers. Over the next years, by 2004, the Spanish-speaking republic placed first in the Athens XXVIII Summer Games upon their victory over Paraguay, a feat never before accomplished by a male squad from Argentina in the men’s soccer Olympic Cup.

Messi was Latin America’s top hope for a medal in the 2008 Olympiad. Nonetheless, there were troubles to send Messi to Beijing: his club did not approve his Olympic participation. After a long-running conflict between the Spaniard club and AFA (Argentinean Football Association), Messi was eligible to represent his nation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won his second major global event following a convincing triumph over Nigeria, one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the Olympic Championship. It was interesting to note that Messi was a great Olympian champ in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Unlike Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) -a long-standing senior player from Brazil– and Maradona, Messi has won an Olympic gold medal after Argentina defeated six countries in the men’s Olympian football championship in the Games of 29th Olympiad in mainland China, becoming the first world-class soccer player to win a trophy in the Modern Olympics since the early 1950s when Ferenc Puskas took the Hungarian team to its first Olympian title in the Finland Summer Games.

The Soccer Tournment included some strong names such as Brazil, Belgium, Holland,and Cote d’Ivoire.There, this Spanish-trained professional player also helped Argentina to win their second straight Olympic title; the nation’s fourth Olympian medal in men’s football. As well as earning the gold in the People’s Republic, Messi was regarded as one of Latin America’s foremost Olympic athletes. Nonetheless, his trophy was overshadowed by the wins of Michael Phelps, Usain Powell of Jamaica ( 3-time Olympic gold medalist ) and other champions.

2008-2009 Season

After being part of the Olympic gold-winning squad in 2008, Messi won the world’s best footballer by FIFA ( the world’s governing body of soccer ).

In beginning 2009, Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Racing de Santander was one of Messi’s most notable matches, scoring both goals in the last 45 minutes. Messi entered the match when its club was defeated (0-1), but he confirmed his international status when he was able to break down a Santander defense. During the game, Spain’s team made its 5,000 goal with Messi.

After making worldwide headlines on Spaniard soil, he was a key player when his club had a convincing 6-2 win over Real Madrid at Santiago de Bernabu Stadium in Spain’s capital city— Without a doubt, one of the greatest games of Messi’s athletic career. As has traditionally been the case, this a match attracted several neutral fans across the globe. Messi’s other important achievement was when Barcelona’s side finished first in the unofficial event Joan Gamper Trophy for the third time in a row. In 2008, he came away with 10 individual awards.

His Play Speaks For Itself

By the time the 2009-10 season, Messi brought about a sporting revolution at Barcelona. Astonishingly, his side won all the championships. For these wins, some experts and sportswriters believe he is better than Maradona and Pele.

Upon claiming five prestigious competitions —the Champions League, the UEFA Supercup, the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), the National League, and the Spanish Supercup— Messi was able to lead Barcelona side to victory in the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the turn of the 2009, becoming Spain’s most popular person and making Barcelona one of the world’s most successful clubs in football history. Apart from winning these events, he collected over 15 individual awards in the Americas, Persian Gulf, and Western Europe: World Football of the Year, Alfredo Di Stefano Trophy, World Selection, Best Player in the Club World Cup, and Champions Trophy, among other trophies.

In April 2010, one of the most interesting statistics came from Messi when he became Barcelona’s first footballer to score four goals in the Champions League-all against Arsenal F.C. Likewise, he made a name for himself in soccer world as he was Barcelona’s top scorer in the Champions League ( twenty-five goals). Later on, Messi helped the club to capture the Spanish league, as well as winning two special trophies as the Best Player.

Spain: The Best Domestic Football

Not all of Messi’s play was acclaimed in 2010. Despite the optimism following Messi’s strong performance in Western Europe, Argentine side was eliminated by Germany (0-4), allowing it to secure a top five position in the FIFA Global Tournament;one of Messi’s most disapponting results in this period.

The men’s football team of Argentina departed for Africa in the quest of their third Global Cup. From the beginning, Los Celestes entered the 2010 South Africa World Cup as a front-runner to win the title. Prior to being eliminated in the quaterfinals, the South American nation had four wins: Nigeria (1-0), South Korea (4-1), Greece (2-0), and Mexico (3-1). Ironically, the Spanish national team won the Global Cup for the first time.

Although one of the most prominent sportsmen in this Century, Messi has not won a World Cup (2006 & 2010). In sub-Saharan Africa, his production was poor: He did not score a single goal. Up to now, his results pale in comparison with Maradona and Pele.

2010-2011 Season

In September 2010, Messi’s play captivated the audience, from experts and sportswriters to fans, setting new Spanish and European records. For the third consecutive time,the star player became top scorer in the Champions League. It was unbelievable. In the whole event, the sport’s greatest footballer was a “perfect machinery”. Spearheaded by its idol Messi, the Barcelonese club amassed two tournaments – The national tournament and then Champions League for the second successive year, sparking off celebrations in the Spaniard city of Barcelona. In the meantime, he gained the FIFA Ballon d’ Or. These wins have helped construct an excellent relationship between Messi and his fans inside and outside Spain. In his native country, however, there is another atmosphere.

America’s Cup

Argentina’s side was upset by Brazil in the finals of the 2007 South American Cup (there Messi appeared in all six of his nation’s games). Four years later, the traditional event was held in Argentina. There, the host nation entered the regional contest, but it did not even make the semis. On the eve of that event, Argentina was a gold-medal contender well ahead of Brazil and Uruguay.

Unfortunately, Messi could not do anything. In spite of his extraordinary achievements in Western Europe, the amazing Latino player was unable to lead the Argentine side to win the Copa America for the second time, being strongly criticized by Argentina’s football fans.

The local squad had two draws with Bolivia (1-1) and Colombia (0-0) before defeating Costa Rica (3-0) and falling to eventual champion Uruguay (4-5) in the quarter-finals. In his own land,Messi did not score a single goal (except on a penalty) over the course of the Latin American championship. Undeterred, he departed for Spain.

Undoubtedly, some soccer fans don’t understand why Argentina’s national team can not win international tournaments with the world’s most prominent soccer player.

2011-2012 Season

Spearheaded by Messi, the Barcelonese club captured the Spanish Supercup on in August 2011. With 8 goals, Messi was the top scorer in the national contest, ahead of Raúl González Blanco. Within a few weeks, they also won the European Supercup. On December 18, 2011, Barcelona won the Club World Cup by beating Brazil’s Santos (4-0). There, Messi was the tournament’s most valuable athlete. Astonishingly, Messi became the top scorer (236 goals) in Barca’s history on March 31, 2012.

An Advocate for the Rights of Children

Latin America’s remarkable football player Messi is regarded as Argentina’s long-standing advocate for the rights of poor children. By 2007, he created a self-named foundation,whose principal aim is to improve education and health care of the future generation of Argentina’s boys and girls. Recently named UN Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Messi works closely with the international organization, increasing global awareness and providing financial aid to programs for children and mothers on Earth.

Alejandro Guevara Onofre: Within a span of three years, Alejandro has produced a host of high-quality articles/essays about cultures of the world, “re-discovering countries” and exploring exotic locations -from Chad to Vietnam, from Kosovo to the paradise island of Dominica – and new biographies (from such disparate individuals as Halle Berry, José Gamarra Zorrilla…). He also has made a name for himself as an expert on Summer Olympics, becoming the top “Olympian author” at; stories based on athletic perseverance and Olympian spirit in global sports, including the United States of America. Under this backdrop, he has declared himself as “the world’s No. 1 fan of the Olympics”. As a keen sports fan, he says “I am passionate about sport–writing about it, playing it, watching it, and talking…”

What I Have Learned in Football and Financial Planning

Football or Soccer has become a passion for me after rediscovering it again in 2010. I haven’t played a major 11-aside tournament after leaving high school and proceeding to college more than a decade ago. Other than running and badminton, this sport have become my outlet recently in relieving stress, renewed motivation to exercise and be fit and meeting with old and new friends who shared the same passion as well.

I learned how to play the sport at age 11 in early 1990s. It was fun time of learning the basics of football. In football playing countries learning the sport at age 11 is already old but I started to pick it up at that age and stayed away from playing basketball at the moment and become one of the Euro football fan (from Dutch and Italian Serie A) and recently with English Premiere League, Spain’s La Liga, German Bundesliga and our very own United Football League Philippines.

In the past two years, this sport has been earning throngs of fans from all walks of life after that faithful and triumphant battle in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup Semi-finals. It has become an exciting sport after seeing the Philippine National Football Team – Seniors Division a.k.a. as the Philippines Azkals in action. The Azkals made a breakout in this tournament giving glory to our country. Reaching the semi-finals brought tremendous hope and a bright future for Philippine football scene. Last March 2012, the Azkals won the bronze medal on one tough match against Palestine in 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu, Nepal. Although there are many issues surrounding the players but still they have shown off that they are proud Filipinos – pure blood or half-blood.

With renewed interest of playing this sport again we started out a small Football Association (FA) club composed of guys with same interest in playing recreational and competitive football. We organized this club in the interest of propagating the football grassroots development program in our area and at the same time play together as a team, compete on a 7-aside tournament in Metro Manila or play 11-aside friendly games with other clubs within or near our area and represent our community in the province.

As one of the founding members and one of the managing staff involves huge task of handling and organizing people, finance, training, equipments and at times coaching the players, etc. All the principles of the personal financial planning can be applied here as well.

Training the players

It involves lots of routine exercises from running, ball handling, skills developments and others. It is for sure needs lot of discipline in order to reach the peak of your performance and become one of top players as what most coaches will tell you and make you do when playing this tough sport such as football which is very competitive. It took time for us recall the old instincts plus the muscle memory of playing the game again.

Like football, you must learn how to save, instill unto yourself the discipline of not overspending and setting certain amount of your money through budgeting and keeping expenditures monitored. Although, saving money is hard for others but once you save at least a portion of your money (10%) this could be a small step then you can go to higher amounts. Motivating on ‘s self to save money and invest for the future in reaching one’s goal in life.

Maintaining the club

Currently, we do not have corporate sponsors or affiliation with a local sporting organization or local government unit that could help us strengthen the team more. All of the players and staff are setting aside a small portion of their own money and pooled it into a trust fund if the case arises that we need to pay for the registration fees, transport fees and other expenses might be incurred in future events and tournaments in Metro Manila or elsewhere outside of our province.

In financial planning perspective, discipline of setting aside for emergency cases or contingency plan if the case of the need to use the fund arises might come in handy. At least the cash needed for this could up to 6 months to a year in case of losing a job or looking for a job etc. Organizing the way you spend and the change in lifestyle could help you achieve more in saving enough funds for important future purchases for a future home, a car, dream vacation abroad or even for retirement.

Merchandising the goods

We come up with this bold plan of merchandising our team brand of T-shirt and marketing it to a local state university nearby in order to create positive cash flow in the coffers of the club. It got noticed with buyers from college students and local football aficionados who are friends of ours and supporters of our team with the use of social media network and by word of mouth as well. We invested a portion of our personal money unto selling and revolve the profits in order to create more products and services as long as the demand is still there in return we still a 10% profit sharing from the team members who invested in this plan.

Learning and discovering entrepreneurial side of running a small business on a part-time or full-time basis could help you develop business skills and probably earn more cash. Business venture such as retail could be excellent and could give you firsthand experience into venturing more into a more lucrative business if you take the risks at the same time the return of profit can be break even, low or higher. Taking the opportunity of earning on the side doesn’t not knock twice. It only comes once in a life. If it comes to your doorstep then grab it.

Setting a Timeframe and Goal

In a coach’s perspective in football training and practice, you must set a timeframe of training especially when preparing for a competition or tournament. As most athletes do they tend to practice and do routine exercises in order to keep them upbeat in meeting the challenge against other competing teams in which your aim is to reach the finals, win and settle the a champions cup or gold medals for individual players and have the bragging rights of earning the trophy of being the best.

The purpose of setting a realistic goal is the start of making a good financial plan in which you set a time or schedule on the dream you want to achieve from buying a car, a house and capitalizing a business in the future. In retrospect, you be motivated to achieve this by sacrificing a lot to reach your aims, wants and desires. Remember, dreaming is free but there are deadlines if you want to it happen now.

Paying it forward

The team practices in a nearby sporting complex and we always see kids from poor families watch us but it turn out they want to play or kick the balls. It was a worthwhile and self-fulfilling experience when you teach a 7 year old boy on how to kick the ball, how to run fast and striking the ball into the goal post. You shared something of yourself by sharing your knowledge of this sport. Some 12-15 kids of different ages from 8-14 years old would watch us when we come late afternoon to practice and try to learn as much as possible on how to play football / soccer. Maybe one of this days we might discover the future Pelé, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldhino, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi (the current big names or legends of football / soccer, just to name a few) among one of these boys or girls.

To summarize it all, personal finance requires skills, motivation and the stiff discipline of saving in your personal output and input of cash flows and setting realistic goals in achieving that dream of yours through proper management and applying knowledge gained from experience and books and advises from a financial planner could aid and support all the way as your personal coach.

In football, I never expected to be part of a young upstart football club in our community and it was an honor and privilege to be part of the core group and management of this local team, Futboleros United Club, in which I am one of the founding members. Working and playing with these guys totally earned my respect for them as I see their dedication and fighting spirit amidst winning or losing a game. It is a worthwhile learning experience for me to be part of this team.


CRB Benedict Baluyut, is a certified real estate professional with PRC Real Estate Broker’s License No 8538 and Registered Financial Planner of Association of Registered Financial Planners – Philippines. He is based in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines.

Costa Del Sol – Information on Malaga Province, Costa Del Sol and Its Beaches

Malaga Province is situated in the Autonomous Province of Andalusia, in the Southern-most part of Spain. The Costa Del Sol relates to the coastline of Malaga Province which literally translates to “Coast of the Sun” or “Sunny Coast”

Originally, the Costa Del Sol was made up of a series of small fishing villages stretching from its Capital Malaga, almost to the Straight of Gibraltar and it’s neighbouring Province Cadiz. Nowadays; and since the popularity of tourism which started in the 1960’s-1970’s, the region has been transormed into a World renowned holiday destination.

Malaga Province enables visitors to come all year round; the coastline which is sheltered from wind by Mountain ranges, offers its visitors over 300 days of Sun. With its Mediterranean climate, Andalusia offers all year round average temperatures of 18º C. Average Summertime temperatures range from 25ºC -30ºC, while during the Winter months rarely go below 14ºC during the day.

The Costa del Sol has gained massive popularity from Golfers Worldwide over the Years; and is quoted as being Europe’s Golf Capital, although this is just one of its many attractions for visitors. With over 70 courses in the region, and now over 45 on the Costa Del Sol alone, its easy to see why the Costa Del Sol is simply a Golfers Paradise.

Marbella is possibly the Costa del Sol’s most famous tourist destination; with Its excellent climate, history, beaches, fine-dining restaurants, major sports facilities and natural surroundings being some of the countless attractions this coastal town has to offer.

Puerto Banús is one of the most prestigious areas of Marbella. Surrounded by exclusive housing developments, and large Mansion-type Villas, this famous marina is home to some of the largest and most luxurious Yachts in the World. Puerto Banus also offers a select leisure area made up of restaurants and shops selling International designer labels and luxury items.

At the foot of the Sierra Blanca hills is Marbella’s historic quarter (Casco Antiguo). A must see for tourists as it is seemingly hidden away from modernisation. You can walk through small cobbled streets; surrounded by whitewashed buildings decorated with brighly colored Bougainvillea, and Orange trees which spring up on every corner.

East and West from Marbella you will find the ports of Cabopino and Estepona, Marbella offers the visitor 26 kilometres of beautiful coastline with a succession of sun-drenched beaches equipped with all kinds of services; including modern hotels, shops, bars, restaurants and much more. The beaches of San Pedro de Alcantara, are a fine example of the balance struck between nature and tourist development which blend together perfectly.

East from Cabopino is the tourist town of Mijas, which is found at the foot of the hills bearing the same name. Mijas is home to typical Andalucian houses, where this mountain village has combined tourism without affecting its traditional and authentic Spanish charm. The whitewashed houses are Arab in layout and nestled in the mountain landscape. The surrounding area meanwhile, preserves some archaeological sites, testimony to the town’s rich prehistoric past!

Estepona (West of Marbella) is a major tourist centre overlooked by the Bermeja mountains, it has magnificent beaches equipped with all kinds of services, as well as a busy marina. Many years ago, it was the Phoenician settlement of La Astapa and today boasts an Andalusian flavour which offers many places of interest, among them the church of the Virgen de los Remedios and the castle of San Luis

10 Interesting facts about the Costa Del Sol:

1 There are over 20 English speaking Schools along the coast, making it easy to integrate into the community if planning a permanent move.

2 Marbella alone, is home to residents from over 130 different nationalities.

3 The late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia had a fully-staffed compound (Mar-Mar Palace), complete with private clinic and mosque in Marbella. The Mansion was modelled on the White House and he would arrive with an entourage of over 3,000 staff, would rent 300 hotel rooms and 500 cars; and his one-month stays would inject an estimated 40-80 million euros into the local economy.

4 In 1946, German Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe-Langenburg discovered Marbella (then population of approx 1000). He fell in love with the area, and decided to purchase some land. His own residence (Finca Santa Margarita) became so popular with visitors that he turned it into what is known as The Marbella Club today. In 1954, this became the Costa del Sol’s first luxury hotel who’s frequent visitors included Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier.

5 There are over 70 Bullrings in Andalucia, the one in Sevilla being one of the finest and oldest in Spain, and one of the most important in the world dating back to the 1700’s.

6 The Osborne Bull which you can see stood on hilltops and along the roadside in many parts of Spain; began as an advertisement in 1956 for the famous Veterano Brandy company. In 1994 the Spanish Government ordered the “Bulls” be dismantled to improve road safety, there was public outcry across many parts of Spain, especially Andalucia, where the regional government promptly declared it part of Andalucian Heritage.

7 The Fiesta de San Juan is held at midsummer to celabrate the birth of Saun Juan (John the Baptist), and dates back to an ancient celebration of Midsummer Solstice. There are bonfires, parties, celebrations and fireworks along the Costa Del Sol’s beaches, the height of celebrations is on 23rd June when large bonfires are set alight at midnight. The festivities continue until sunrise, and its traditional to walk backwards into the sea to receive good luck for the rest of the year.

8 Each year, every Village, Town and City throughout Spain pays homage to its local saint with a week or more long celebratory festival; and each town/city is awarded their own local public holiday. These are known as “Feria’s”, the Feria de San Bernabe (Saint Bernard) takes place mid-June in Marbella each year, and each evening there are Flamenco shows and outdoor dining in all the plazas of the town where the locals wear their traditional Polka-dot Flamenco dresses.

9 The artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga, and is home to the Museo Picasso Malaga which was opened in 2003 at the BuenaVista Palace. It has 285 works of art by the painter, which were donated by members of the Picasso family in 2009.

10 Jesus Gil was a Spanish businessman, politician and mayor of Marbella between 1996 & 2002; he was also the President of Spanish football team Athletico Madrid for 16 years.

A Beginner’s Guide to Football in Spain

Football in Spain, much as it is in England, is undoubtedly the national game with a passion for the sport that can only be matched in a handful of countries around the world. Spain’s La Liga (Spain’s premier football league for those not in the know) is regarded in many circles as the best in Europe and the international team have been tipped to bring home some silverware from a major tournament for a long time (I might add they’ve yet to oblige the nation). Taking all of this into account football is clearly tied in heavily with Spain’s cultural fabric. To watch a game and to gauge the day to day news and debate is to sample something of Spain and its people firsthand. There aren’t many social areas which football doesn’t permeate; whether it’s digesting the sports pages in a café, catching a game in a bar or kids in the streets and playgrounds emulating the feats of their heroes.

The two most famous clubs are Barcelona and Real Madrid, the latter having been regarded as the best team in the world for the last few years. With squads reading like a who’s who of international football the clubs boast some of the best players from around the globe. Football in Spain is a big deal and the stadia, which constitute major tourist sites in both cities, certainly reflect this passion; the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona has a capacity of 100,000 whilst the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid boasts a capacity of close to 90,000 and both are amongst the largest in the world. Visitors to the cities should certainly consider as tour of the stadiums for a chance to see just how big they are. Both also offer excellent museums offering insight into the two clubs glittering histories and also a chance to see the changing rooms – where most Spanish schoolboys dream of sitting one day.

As you could imagine, the rivalry between Barcelona and Real is massive and when they play the match is simply known in Spain as
El Derby, it is the biggest sporting fixture in the Spanish calendar and is quite possibly the most fiercely contested (and supported) domestic match in all of football. There’s even more to play for this season as Barcelona ended Madrid’s dominance by claiming La Liga for the first time since 1999. Madrid will be looking for revenge this season and have brought in some exciting new players to try and reignite their title challenge.

One excellent indicator of how big football is in Spain (and particularly at these two clubs), is just how much pressure is heaped on players and managers alike by supporters and the media when results don’t go their way. Club boards can be exceedingly fickle and the way in which club presidents are actually elected by the season ticket holders, gives the fans a lot more power as those running the club have, to some extent, to respond to their demands and whims to keep their popularity. For these reasons La Liga is probably the toughest European league to manage in and most clubs have an alarmingly high turnover of head coaches. It’s certainly a cut-throat business and an area in which the Spaniards are partisan, extremely passionate and always have an opinion.

The Biggest Soccer Clubs in the World

When it comes to being able to put a list together of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, there are different ways that you could actually get that list together. You could go by rankings or players or perhaps you could go by how many wins a team has actually had. But, when the world is looking at the best and the biggest, they are usually looking at the rankings of the teams. You could go on and on with the list but it may be best to just stick with the tops of the tops and just call it a day.

One of the first teams you may want to take a look at is Barcelona. They have been ranked number one but of course now that Spain has won the cup they have probably taken that spot. This is a team though that does fight the good fight and deserves to be in the biggest soccer clubs in the world list. Of course you also need to take a look at Chelsea. This is a team that has also earned the right to be on that list and has beaten some of the top teams.

Next on the list may be Girondins Bordeaux and then Inter Milan. Both of these teams have fought long and hard to be in the standings that they currently have and they have earned the titles for their teams. Another team that seems to be up and coming to the biggest soccer clubs in the world is Arsenal and AC Milan is right behind them. They are both favorites by many and each team has a crowd of fans that gives them the support that they need while they are playing throughout the season.

If you want to add a few more to the list of these fabulous teams that have earned the ranking than you could also look at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, PSV Eindhoven, Sevilla, Benfica Lisbon and even Valencia. All of the teams have earned the right to be on the biggest soccer clubs in the world list although the order may not be in the exact way that they are listed. They are not listed in the exact order of their rankings but they are some of the teams that have made a name for themselves one way or another.

Again, this list is not done by their rankings for the biggest soccer clubs in the world but based on what the teams have done while they were playing and some of the feats that the players have accomplished at the same time. In order to get the exact rankings you could always take a look on the internet so that you can find out just where the teams ended up at the end of the season. But of course, everyone has their own list of who should be in the top and who should never be able to make it on the list in the first place.

The Club World Cup Has Lost Its Purpose

The FIFA Club World Cup is no longer a proper measure to decide the best club team in the world.

Because of huge investments in European soccer in the last decade the European clubs (UEFA) have a big money advantage over the rest of the world and can buy the best players which gives them a big advantage over the other confederations. Moreover, the format of the tournament is set to favor UEFA and South America (Conmebol) which is unfair to the other teams.

The problem is that the competition has failed to keep up with changes in the game and has therefore lost its relevance and purpose.


The competition was started in 2000 (when it absorbed its predecessor the Intercontinental Cup) and was formed as a yearly competition to showcase the best local talent from the various confederations. The idea was that the winners in each continental tournament would compete against each other and the winner crowned as the best club team in the world. This was the theory but in practice it has turned out differently.

Previously the best non-European players pursued their careers in their home countries and were unknown to foreign audiences. The Club World Cup gave these players a chance to showcase their skills on the world stage and at that time there was parity between clubs in Europe and South America.

Conmebol teams won the trophy in the first three years of the competition but after that the European teams dominated and the balance of power shifted to Europe.


The beginning of European domination coincided in the early part of the current century with a massive influx of investment in UEFA soccer at club level. The fallout from this is that today there is a great disparity of income between European clubs and the other confederations.

The winner of the European Champions League earns much more money than the other continental tournaments combined. Real Madrid made $70.1 million last season for winning the UEFA Champions League. In contrast San Lorenzo made $6.1 million for winning Copa Libertadores (Conmebol), ES Setie made $1.8 million for winning the African (CAF) Champions League and in Asia Western Sydney Wanderers made about the same for defeating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal over two legs (YAHOO SPORTS – Why does the Club World Cup still struggle for relevance?; by Peter Staunton, December 12, 2014).

With such money on hand, the best talent that money can buy are in Europe’s major leagues, lured by the lucrative contracts that these leagues have to offer. This means that Europe has at its disposal its own talent and whatever the rest of the world has.

The biggest losers in the exodus of soccer talent to Europe are Brazil and Argentina which are the leading exporters of players, so what is Europe’s gain is South America’s loss.

Accordingly, every other side at the Club World Cup is at a disadvantage in comparison with Europe’s Champions League holder. The tournament has evolved from being a rivalry into a battle of David versus Goliath, between European clubs represented by what is tantamount to a World eleven made up mostly of the best international players and the minnows, comprising what is left over after the best of their talent have been siphoned off by the big UEFA clubs.

The current champion, Real Madrid, is a combination of some of the most expensive and best international players coming from Spain (Casillas and Sergio Ramos), France (Benzema and Varane), Portugal (Ronaldo and Pepe), Germany (Kroos), Brazil (Marcelo), Colombia (Rodriquez), Wales (Bale) and Mexico (Chicharito). This assembly of players is hardly representative of the local game in Spain. For three players, namely, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriquez the club paid $367.8 million. Only twelve clubs in the world possess a squad of players whose market value is worth more than the total cost of these three.

Compare that to Auckland City FC one of its competitors in this year’s Club World Cup which is a team of mere amateurs having full-time occupations outside of soccer.

A look at some of the previous champions reveals the heavy foreign component of their squads. In 2010 when Inter Milan (Italy) won the cup, only 5 players in their squad of 23 were Italians while the rest were mostly from South America. Even the television commentators failed to keep up with the changes as they still referred to the Inter team as ‘the Italians’.

In 2011 Barcelona won the cup and 10 of their 23-man squad were from overseas.


Another big problem with the tournament is that teams from UEFA and South America are given a bye to the semi-finals and start playing even after some of the sides are eliminated. This is intentionally done so that only the biggest clubs face off in the final. So far only teams from those two continents have won and only one team from outside has made it to the final, namely, last year’s surprise finalist TP Mazembe, a Congolese side.

Given the money advantage enjoyed by UEFA and the bizarre format that is currently in place, the Club World Cup can hardly be called the fairest of competitions and the winner cannot legitimately be called ‘the best in the world’ anymore than the winners of the former Intercontinental Cup which was limited to UEFA and Conmebol. The tournament has lost its importance and is hardly bragworthy. Some years ago I won a dancing contest but the other contestants couldn’t dance, so was my victory something to brag about?

Some parity needs to be restored to the competition. Brazil and Argentina have started to raise wages in their local leagues to entice their players to remain at home. That is a start but in addition to that, FIFA must limit the number of foreign players available to each team to, say, two and change the format so that all competing teams play the same number of qualifying matches. Failing this, it is pointless to continue the competition in its present form.

Spain Wins – Orphans Win

The beautiful game doesn’t get us all an invitation to the ball. But whoever wins or loses this Saturday in Soweto, there’s another story way behind the heroics.

The presenter on a recent interview on ABC Radio National Australia became lyrical in his praise for the football club Barcelona. It made for compelling listening, not because it was about their field tactics but because, we were told, FC Barcelona plays a different game off-field to what might be expected of a famous football team.

Their motto is ‘more than a club.’

Mr Joan Laporta, President of the Barcelona Football Club, was quoted in a UNICEF press release in September 2006 as saying that the club was aware of the global dimension of soccer and concluded that, by using soccer as a tool, they could bring hope to millions of vulnerable children in need around the world.

They are, in fact, doing a great deal more than that. In a complete turn around from the usual corporate sponsorship deals, FC Barcelona has paid UNICEF to sport their logo on their players’ shirts and agreed to donate substantially each year to support UNICEF programs for children.

These programs include preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and providing paediatric treatment and care for children made vulnerable or orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Their initial donations were used to support programs in Swaziland, a tiny principality surrounded by South Africa, estimated in 2006 to have the highest rate of adult HIV.

More recently, one of FC Barcelona’s young champions, Lionel Messi, was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador with a two year commitment to work on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children. He said: ” I am ready to do everything I can to help them [children] in my collaboration with UNICEF.”

The Spanish team due to contest the final of the soccer world cup in South Africa tomorrow is dominated by eight players from FC Barcelona, one of whom is Lionel Messi.

Anyone with a deep concern for the plight of vulnerable and orphaned children should be interested in the outcome of this match. Undoubtedly the winning team of this international contest will receive massive publicity from all over the world.

With a UNICEF ambassador for children on the team and seven others from this remarkable Barcelona club, one would hope that some of the media adulation, should they win, will fall on their extraordinary connection to suffering children.

UNICEF said at the time of the agreement that such a donation would “remind football fans everywhere of the importance of putting children first”.

Types of Schools in Spain

Nursery or pre-school (preescolar) – aged 3 – 5

Primary school (escuela primaria) – aged 6 – 12

Secondary education (educacisn secundaria obligatoria/ESO) aged 12 – 16

Private school ( escuela privada)

Compulsory education (escolaridad obligatoria) is also referred to as a basic general education (Educacisn General Basica/EGB)

At 16 years of age:

Pupils who haven’t successfully completed four years secondary education are awarded a school certificate (certificado de escolaridad).

Pupils who have completed the four years, successfully are awarded a graduado en educacisn secundaria certificate and may attend a higher secondary school (or the same school in some cases) to study for their baccalaureate (bachillerato) leading to university entrance.(Universidad)

Students may attend a vocational school (formacisn profesional) providing specialised training for a specific career.

Schools which cater for children with Special Needs.

Pupils are taught in mainstream schools unless their individual needs cannot be catered for. In these instances children are taught in special educational units or schools. There are special state schools in Spain for pupils with special educational needs and learning difficulties .

A general criticism of Spanish state schools made by many foreigners is the lack of extra-curricular activities such as sport, music, drama, and arts and crafts. State schools don’t have school clubs or sports teams and if children want to do team sports they must usually join a local club. However, although they aren’t part of the curriculum, sports and other activities are generally organised through parents’ and sports associations. Fees are low and activities usually take place directly after school.

Vacaciones escolares – School holidays

The school year is made up of three terms, averaging around 11 weeks each. The school year starts in mid September and ends in mid June. The main holidays are Christmas, Easter and a very long 3 month summer break. The majority of schools in Benalmadena finish between 2:00 – 2:30 pm. Schools are closed on public holidays if they fall within term time. (Also for special events / local fiestas which are regional.

Integration into Spanish society

Education is Spain is mostly co educational and entirely free from nursery through to university.

(This is inclusive of foreign resident children)

Spain’s state funded school system is supported by private schools, these includes many foreign and international schools.

Some schools offer lunches, although many children bring a packed lunch or go home for lunch if they live nearby. Although an increasing number of schools don’t have lunch breaks and will finish classes earlier at 2pm.

Most schools provide a subsidised free bus service to tale children to and form their homes. You will need to clarify this for individual schools.

State schools and communities may provide an after school nursery (guarderia) for parents who work.

Having made the decision to send a child to a state school, you should stick to it for at least a year to give it a fair trial, as it can take a child this long to fully adapt to a new language, the change of environment and the different curriculum.

Please remember that it is much easier to change from a state school to a private school. Changing from a private to a state school is far more difficult, especially if your children are teenagers.

Many foreign parents choose to educate younger children in the Spanish nursery and primary sectors, where learning the language is a quicker and simpler process. At secondary level the children are educated at a private school.

Spanish universities tend to be overcrowded but their educational standards are on a par with European universities. Although foreign parents who can afford to educate their children in foreign universities (especially American and British) choose this option as the courses are more flexible and shorter.

Before making any major decisions concerning your children’s future education, it is of paramount importance that you consider their ability, character, educational strengths and individual requirements.

Attending a state school helps children integrate into the local community and learn the local language, and is highly recommended if you plan to remain in Spain for any length of time. Although it may not appeal initially, given the choice many British children prefer to attend Spanish school and become part of the local community.

The Outstanding Influence of Soccer in Spain

Soccer in Spain is believed to be associated like a religion in Spain. This game is usually called as “futbol” by the Spanish people. People have embraced this belief that soccer is like a religion in Spain because it is like a devotion which Spanish try to express by accurately saying that this is their beloved sport. Before, the only essential thing they do during Sundays is going to the church, nowadays it is watching the game during Sunday night stuffs.

Great history of soccer was believed to be in Spain, only questionable when it was defeated by England and Italy when it comes to football legacy. Soccer in Spain is less expensive when it comes to availability of the tickets and at often times less than 20EUR from the usual clubs. Honestly, you may expect to buy a ticket for about 35EUR just to see a soccer game but you may buy a cheaper one from the tout of the streets which could give you better savings especially when it comes to bigger games. Real Madrid is considered to be the most successful team of soccer in Europe.

Spanish football is being played in four professional leagues which are in line with promotion and on the other hand downgrading was in place at the end of each season. The season runs from mid of September till Mid of May and among these months each Saturday and Sunday view over a hundred specialized games which are taking place all across the country. These 20 teams in Liga A are known as “La Liga” in most countries in Europe.