Documentary highlights the achievements of migrants team in Spain
In Santander, on the North coast of Spain, the amateur team Internacional FC is well-known for its achievements on pitch. In its three years of existence, the team managed to top the regional league and see European clubs sign some of its players. But, it was its work against racism that led to the production of a new documentary.
'Internacional FC. Un equipo, una ilusión' (in English, 'International FC. A team, the same dream') is the name of the newest documentary of the Spanish producer company Edigrafica audiovisual. It tells the story of the Santander-based team and its achievements on and off pitch.
Football for inclusion
"The idea was always very simple, football helps to integrate immigrants in society, we all know that. And, this is good for their personal development, for their lives and for their teams. The interaction between people from all walks of life makes teams better." said Vicente Corral, the founder of Internacional FC.
In Spain, the National Institute of Statistics estimates that over five million people living in the country are immigrants, 10,7% of the total population, but according to Corral not many play at amateur level. For this reason, the former amateur player and football scout decided to found Internacional FC in 2012 and through it highlight the potential of immigrants in Spain, promote their integration and tackle racism.
"I had noticed for quite some time that there was a lot of talent among foreign players and I always asked myself why no one signed them.
"I saw them playing a few times and I remember thinking: These guys are great!" explained Corral.
Off to a rough start
In the beginning, Corral tells, the team faced discrimination in many of the grounds where they played.
"The first year was very difficult because not everyone understood the reason behind a team mainly constituted of immigrants. Many laughed at us. However, we had enough support to continue doing our work.
"Sometime we heard abuse from the stands, we weren't sure if it was pure racism or the chants commonly heard in football.
"But it was interesting to see that many of those who racially abused us would also be the first ones to support other teams with more foreign players than ours. Racism is all about ignorance and lack of respect." Corral explained.
In 2012, Internacional FC won the second division of the region's league and in less than two years became a reference among clubs and migrant communities in Spain.
"Last year, a Paris Saint German youth player came to us became he wanted to play in our team. We thought it was a joke, but then we saw him playing.
"Obviously he did not stay long, he left shortly after to Portugal to play for a second division club and I think he is now playing in France's third division, which is already a professional league" said Corral, adding that also the team's former goalkeeper is now playing for Racing de Santander B.
A winning team
Currently, Internacional FC is the top club in the main division of the Cantabria region, of which Santander is the capital. Its growth and football achievements has led its founder broaden his goals for the club.
In the near future, Corral is looking to open a new branch of the work: "The idea is to give more opportunities to both Spanish and immigrants in Spain to play football, while continuing the work around inclusion that the club started three years ago".
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