Janet Rodriguez has her son to blame … and also to thank.
Years ago, Lawrence Rodriguez started sharing stories of Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi, which piqued his mother’s interest about the club the two superstars shared: FC Barcelona.
Yearning to watch the Catalan club in their hometown of Toronto, the pair discovered Scallywags, a now-closed bar a mere 10 minutes away that aired Barça matches. That day, Penya Blaugrana de Toronto was out in full force not only supporting the club, but also recruiting new members.
“It was great timing,” Janet says.
Janet and Lawrence signed up to join the penya, which was founded in 2011, and while Lawrence’s interest in the club has maintained, Janet was absolutely hooked, citing the club’s style of play and passion from stalwarts including former captain Carles Puyol.
“My interest actually has become greater than his,” she says. “I’ve continued to attend all the time. I’m on the board of the penya and I’m as involved as I can be.”
Now a full-fledged culé, Rodriguez follows the club day and night, and even keeps tabs on the rest of the LaLiga table, especially Barça’s Catalan counterparts, Girona FC.
She’s traveled to Spain a handful of times to watch FC Barcelona in person, including in the UEFA Champions League against AFC Ajax, against rivals RCD Espanyol in the Copa del Rey, and versus Getafe in a league matchup.
“Every time we’ve been, the team has won and Messi scored, so it’s been wonderful,” Rodriguez says. “Probably one of my greatest heartaches in life is that Messi had to leave Barcelona, but it’s still my No. 1 team of course.”
Excited by the club’s new generation highlighted by players like Pedri and Gavi, Rodriguez is making it a priority of her’s and the penya’s to spread the good word on the current LaLiga leaders, proclaiming come one, come all to The Pint in downtown Toronto to not only watch a match, but to become part of the Blaugrana family.
“The penya’s been an opportunity for everyone to make a lot of friends,” she says. “We’re a very multicultural city here and that’s reflected in our membership. … We need to continue to find ways to let people in general, and women in particular, know about us.”
A Breakaway from Household Support
Real’s remontadas roped in this fan
Unexpected Encounter Leads to Unforgettable Experience
Sevilla Fandom Comes Full Circle
UD Almería unites community in New Jersey
Basque Roots Grow in Meaning for Boise Student
Local peña helps Celta Vigo fans overcome morriña
San Diego, the Birthplace of the first Cádiz Peña in the U.S.
Fate, luck and curiosity brought this fan to Atleti
Real Sociedad fandom blossoming in Boise
Growing up in awe of Sánchez, Real Madrid
Ortegas proudly promote Real Betis around the globe
¡Vamos mi Sevilla! ¡Vamos Nueva York!
Mexico’s Márquez Converted This Culé
Covid can’t stop this Valencia CF socio
Living near the Bernabéu led to this fan loving Real Madrid
How a U.S. Elementary School Principal Helped Save Real Oviedo
Growing the Beautiful Game in Montreal and Beyond
Uruguay’s Forlán Helped This Fan Fall in Love With Atleti
Ready to stick with RCD Mallorca through thick and thin
Behind this Barça Fan’s Pregame Ritual