Athletic Club Fundazioa spreads happiness as host team of the II Phase of LaLiga held at Lezama
The celebration of the II Phase of LaLiga Genuine in Lezama has been a complete success. In a competition in which success has nothing to do with winning or losing, but with having a good time, Athletic Genuine, accompanied by its loyal and spirited fans, has been the ideal host. The 22 participating teams, more than 350 players with intellectual disabilities, have thoroughly enjoyed a dream weekend. Following to the letter the motto of this championship, “sharing before competing”, Athletic Genuine has shared the happiness of playing at home with the rest of the teams.
Phase II began in the best possible way, with a grand opening at San Mamés, the Cathedral of football. Jose Angel Iribar and Vicente del Bosque, accompanied by Clemente Villaverde, president of the LaLiga Foundation, and Jon Uriarte and Nerea Ortiz, president and vice-president of Athletic Club, kicked off the women’s match between the lionesses and Sevilla FC.
Nerea Ortiz welcomed the captains of the participating teams in Basque and then assured them that it was “an honour for Athletic Club to be able to host LaLiga Genuine once again, a project that we have been committed to for years and that we value enormously. We say ongi etorri, welcome, and, above all, we hope you enjoy yourselves and demonstrate the importance of values”.
After the inauguration, the captains made the honour corridor to the Athletic and Sevilla players when they took to the San Mamés pitch and then joined their teammates in the stands.
33 matches in which everyone wins
During the morning and afternoon of Saturday, and also on Sunday morning, the 33 matches of this round of LaLiga were played. As happened last year in the Final Phase, Lezama was a complete party. The red and white fans, with their flags, mascots, scarves and drums, greeted each club as they arrived at the facilities with chants of welcome. But the big bang came with Athletic Genuine: the anthem at full volume and a corridor that ended in chains and team and fans united chanting “Athletic gu gara”, “Champiñones, champiñones”, “Sha la la la la la Athletic Club” and other chants. The joy of the players is indescribable in these moments of communion. In the words of one of the fathers of a Genuine lion: “They couldn’t be happier; Athletic has changed their lives”. If happiness is combined with a sense of belonging, the emotion overflows and becomes contagious, as when celebrating goals in favour… and, sometimes, also against.
Among the surprises of the weekend, the presence of Ander Herrera stood out on Saturday, who came by pitch 1 to greet Athletic Genuine. On Sunday, it was Athletic Club coach Iraia Iturregi, accompanied by Ainhoa Tirapu, who greeted the red and white team. After the final whistle, Nerea Ortiz, Josetxu Urrutia and Egoitz Begoña, representing Athletic Club, together with Clemente Villaverde, president of the LaLiga Foundation, presented the medals to the Genuine lions and lionesses.