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Villarreal, the host of the final stage of LaLiga Genuine
Villarreal, the host of the final stage of LaLiga Genuine

The Submarine will host the tournament at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground and will face Elche, Málaga and Granada

The most special tournament in the country comes to Vila-real this weekend! The Villarreal CF EDI team (team with intellectual disabilities) is already preparing to host the final phase of LaLiga Genuine Santander, which will be held at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground on 9th, 10th and 11th June. The town in Europe with the most football pitches per inhabitant will take over from Tarragona, Barcelona, Bilbao, Vigo and Burgos, being the sole venue for the fourth and final phase and therefore hosting all the participating teams.

The Groguets will face Elche, Málaga and Granada at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground.

Here is their schedule:

  • Villarreal CF vs Elche CF: Saturday 10th June, 12pm CEST
  • Fundación Málaga CF vs Villarreal CF: Saturday 10th June, 7pm CEST
  • Villarreal CF vs Granada CF: Sunday 11th June, 12pm CEST

In addition, all the teams will be able to visit the renovated Estadio de la Cerámica and see first-hand corners such as the press room and the changing rooms or step on the same grass that the Submarine’s stars walk on and which has witnessed so many glorious nights.

The responsibility of being hosts

The Submarine is led by four coaches with different profiles: the former players Ana Roig and Natalia Miró, psychologist Sonia Alcón and social integrator Toni Jiménez. All of them form a splendid coaching staff that manages more than 60 players divided into different groups.

The celebration of this day at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground allows to close a nice circle. “We were the first host of the first Genuine and now we close this season. It’s very difficult for us to play at home and it’s important for the fans because it’s difficult for parents to travel when we play away,” said Ana Roig.

The support of the Villarreal fans as stressed by the coaching staff, will be fundamental. “We are lucky to have these facilities and we are delighted to host this tournament. We hope that all the families of the 60 players we have will come and that everything will be mobilised so that there is a good atmosphere,” admits Sonia Alcón.

On the other hand, playing at home will allow the integration of all the players who make up the EDI teams. This is how the former Yellows player explains it: “We can only call up 16 players for each phase and this time we have the opportunity for everyone to take part, even if they don’t play this weekend”. Likewise, once again, Vila-real will once again be the epicentre of the national football scene, since, as Alcón explains, “more than 40 national teams are coming and it will give visibility to Villarreal EDI and the city of Vila-real, as well as to the whole group of people with disabilities”.

Truly feeling Villarreal

Paco Navarro is one of the players who will play in the prestigious competition at home. He has been a Villarreal EDI team player for almost a decade, since the year of its creation. The player from Castellon feels that by playing in Miralcamp this last phase, “you have to try a little harder because we are the hosts”. Paco is a Groguet at heart, as he himself says: “When I wear this shirt I feel the shield. I felt like a professional when we played at La Rosaleda, but every time I put on the Villarreal shirt I feel like Pau Torres.”

In fact, Paco and Pau know each other quite well from their coexistence thanks to the Endavant project when the defender played for the U19s (Juvenil A). However, “what I’m most excited about is playing with my teammates and being all together in the hotel”, confesses Paco.

A family off the pitch

A family. That is Villarreal EDI on and off the pitch. “We act as father, mother, family, friends and psychologists. The families themselves look to us to deal with many non-sporting aspects with them,” says Sonia Alcón. Because of the motivation they have in this project, we have the responsibility of having a great influence on them, which I think is positive,” adds Roig.

Travelling with them to the different phases of LaLiga Genuine, “is a lot of fun”, as Roig explains, although “the main difficulty is that they weren’t used to travelling by plane until they’ve been away from home for three days or eating what we advise them to eat.” As in the rest of the Yellows Academy teams, training in values is a key issue for the four coaches, as the psychologist and head coach summarises: “Through the ball we work on values, companionship and making friends. It’s a great opportunity for them.”

Friendship. Family. Values. All this will reign this weekend in the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground with hundreds of players who will compete with respect and camaraderie.