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Villarreal C and Aspropace, lifelong friends
Villarreal C and Aspropace, lifelong friends

The C team and the charity share unforgettable moments thanks to the Endavant project

Villarreal C footballers and members of the Fundación Aspropace are now friends for life thanks to the Endavant project. This work of social responsibility initiated by José Manuel Llaneza several seasons ago covers many branches and is known throughout the province, but few know in depth about Endavant Igualtat, which unites different charities in the province of Castellón with the Yellows Academy teams.

Villarreal C have been sharing their time with members of the Aspropace Foundation and footballers of the stature of Marcos Sánchez, Rubén Gómez, Álex Jiménez, Hugo Pérez, Iván Ramos, Ludovic and Richard Franco accompany the boys with cerebral palsy in different activities during the season.

From strangers to the best of friends

“They go to different places to share time together like bowling, going for a walk, going for a bite to eat… There is also another journalism group that will end up doing an interview with a Villarreal first team player and another that plays a sport called boccia”, explains Cristian Segovia, Villarreal C’s psychologist, who explains that “we have decided to work in groups, like other years, due to the type of people that make up the Aspropace Foundation. We have made four groups in which there are players and members of the charity and each group is coordinated by a coach from the C team.”

The Submarine’s promising young players are learning about other realities thanks to this initiative. “The first feeling for the players was one of nervousness to see how they were going to manage and communicate with them, but it is great for us because we are used to a very easy world in which we have everything and with this we come down to the real world and we become more human,” confesses Iván Puchol, the team’s delegate and member of the coaching staff responsible for the project.

Moreover, “the best thing is that we are with the same group all year round and that makes us create affinity. You realise that every time you see them you are happier than the last time and so are they”, adds Puchol. Likewise, the main objective, as the Segovia explains, “is to share that time once a month or so to see another reality. At the training ground, they always have the same routine. They come, they train, they work very well, but then they go home and being able to empathise with these people makes them appreciate what they have.”

Learning about other realities

The footballers themselves are the most grateful to be able to participate in Endavant activities with their Aspropace colleagues, especially goalkeeper Rubén Gómez. “I am very close to it. It happened to my best friend when he was eight years old. It is very close to me and I have been able to explain to my teammates how it was going to be and how they should react, but at the Aspropace centre they have made everything very easy for us”, says Gómez.

For his part, full-back Marcos Sánchez confesses that “It helps them to see a reality that is quite different to ours and, in particular for me, it helps me to be happy because I see that they are very happy. It makes me think a lot and reflect on the fact that the important thing is to live with what you have and be happy.”

The footballers have already created emotional bonds with the Aspropace kids thanks to the moments they share with Villarreal CF: “These moments with them have created bonds with them and they make us focus on other things and see life as they see it, with more specific moments that we don’t take into account. They help us to enjoy the simple things, things that, with what we have experienced, we no longer value. It helps us to improve both as people and as professionals,” says the young goalkeeper.

On the other hand, the young people from the charity also appreciate these moments, as this anecdote from full-back shows: “It was something new and something we didn’t know and at the beginning it was a shock, but it was a very quick process because they trust us straight away. Last year a boy gave me a rose and you realise that they also value these moments.”

An enriching experience for Aspropace

Humberto González, leisure monitor at Fundación Aspropace, says that this project “is very enriching” as it allows them “to do activities that we don’t normally do”. And the fact is that “there have been cases of seeing players in the street after a while and they stop to greet us and remember all the kids, and that is something to be appreciated. You can see that it is a job well done”, says González, as happened with Jordi Ortega.