Miralcamp hosts the meetings between Villarreal U18s and La Panderola
Miralcamp hosts the meetings between Villarreal U18s and La Panderola

The special education centre and the academy team have shared a day of fun thanks to Endavant Igualtat

La Panderola and Villarreal U18s are sharing unforgettable moments during the 22/23 season. The academy side and the special education centre go hand in hand in the Endavant Igualtat project, through which the teams of the Yellows Academy live together with different associations and foundations of the province of Castellón, during the current season.

Normally, the users of La Panderola act as hosts, but in the last meeting between the two groups, it was the Yellows who received their guests in the games room of the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground residence. “Our students prepare the activities on many occasions, but this time it was the Villarreal players who prepared these fun activities,” said Paz Esteban, a teacher of hearing and language at La Panderola.

Mario Bárcena, head coach of the U18s, explains his team’s latest activity in this Villarreal initiative: “We have prepared six games such as parchís, bingo, bowling or table football and we have made groups of coaching staff, players and pupils and we have spent an incredible hour with them”. Rodri Rocafort, one of the goalkeepers, also enjoyed the experience: “We’ve been doing fun activities with the pupils at La Panderola. It’s been great, we’ve had a lot of fun and we can see that these children who make you happy with so little have enjoyed themselves.”

An enriching project

The Endavant project has been one of the cornerstones of Villarreal’s identity for nine seasons now and this is felt by both the players of the Yellows’ youth team and the collaborating organisations, in this case, La Panderola. “We consider it to be a very enriching project that is very motivating for the students because most of them love football and more specifically Villarreal, so they are very satisfied and do it with great pleasure,” explains the school’s representative.

The Endavant Igualtat branch “is one of the many things that the club has that generates a sense of belonging”, says Bárcena, who adds that “Many of the boys and myself are from abroad and it helps us to get closer to other realities and other situations in life, to Vila-real and to feel, think and know how everything works both in the club and in the city and it helps the boys to get out of that bubble in which they live in the day-to-day life of residence, school, football and rest.” Likewise, the Submarine’s goalkeeper confesses that “You see that you are helping others, you see how grateful they are and that fills you up a lot.”

The associations that collaborate with the club and its users enjoy these synergies, but as José Manuel Llaneza said, the biggest beneficiary is the Submarine. This is also how the coach from Cantabria sees it: “I have no doubt that the biggest beneficiaries are us. You see the enthusiasm with which the kids from La Panderola, the Fundación Síndrome de Down, the Villarreal EDI (team with intellectual disabilities) or the Residencia Virgen de Gracia come and it’s very comforting.”

Thus, the Yellows Academy players see different realities being linked to a different association each year. For example, Rodri recalls his experience last year with the Asociación de Alzhéimer: “It had a big impact on me. They are people like our grandparents, people with a huge heart and we are happy to be able to help them, even if it’s just for a little while.”

“It brings us closer not only to what the club is, but also to its environment, which is what keeps it alive and the most important thing”, says Mario Bárcena in a quote that sums up the spirit of this social responsibility project.