As part of LaLiga's commitment to promoting youth football in India, the LaLiga Foundation invited Irene Guerrero, the captain of Real Betis Women, to run an interactive workshop in Andhra Pradesh for three days with young players and coaches from Anantapur's Rural Football League. The sessions were attended by close to 500 footballers and coaches from 20 districts in the region. This is the first time an international woman footballer has visited Anantapur.
On her three-day tour, Guerrero played with the footballers at various grassroots centres and interacted with them in a fun, relaxed environment. Guerrero, along with officials from LaLiga also distributed training equipment to footballers from the 20 districts in Anantapur.
At the start of 2018, coaches at different LaLiga Iberdrola sides took their Indian colleagues through various training methods and shared invaluable tips through a series of videos, while promoting the virtues of playing sport, as well as empowering women to go far and achieve success.
This has been made possible thanks to the collaboration agreement between the LaLiga Foundation, LaLiga's women's football department and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, with the aim of developing football in the most deprived communities of Anantapur. Through this joint initiative, nearly 2,000 girls and boys between the ages of nine and 19 will get an opportunity to play sport. Apart from sport, the joint initiative will help instil discipline, self-belief and team spirit in the youngsters, qualities that will help them off the pitch as well.
Jose Antonio Cachaza, LaLiga's country manager for India, spoke of, “Our support for the Vicente Ferrer Foundation's women's football programme to help shape the lives of thousands of girls from 20 districts in Anantapur through football. LaLiga is the best league in the world with some of the greatest players and teams and that's why we also take our responsibilities at grassroots level seriously, LaLiga is committed to the children of Anantapur. We have seen Jorge Lorenzo and Rafael Nadal extend their support to the Foundation in the past and we are extremely pleased to carry forward the legacy.”
“As a professional player, I believe it is our responsibility to support the development of young talent,” said Betis captain Irene Guerrero. “The initiative by the LaLiga Foundation will fuel the passion of young players in Anantapur and they'll build skills that will help them become the stars of tomorrow. Having fun is the most important factor in their development, but meeting a professional reminds kids that we are just ordinary people and that through hard work and dedication they too can forge a career in the game.”
The Anantapur Football League (AFL) is a rural grassroots competition that has been run by the Anantapur Sports Academy since it was founded in the 2014/15 season. Since its formation, the AFL has grown in size, expanding both its number of divisions and youth teams.
"Through this partnership, we will be able to bring football closer to girls and boys, in the rural regions of Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. Every child has the 'Right to Play' and we are committed to providing children with the opportunity to participate and enjoy the benefits of playing sports,” said Moncho Ferrer, programme director at the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.