We interviewed the president of Atlético Ben-namiel CF, Rocío Domínguez, who revealed to us that women’s football is hanging by a thread in our municipality. Football and, in general, the sport practiced by women both in Benalmádena and in the rest of the country, have taken a great leap in quality and social recognition that must be consolidated and increased with economic and institutional support, otherwise, In the case of Benalmádena women’s football today, with this interview we could be giving the chronicle of a death foretold.
-You started the project last year and the results exceeded expectations…
-The truth is that if. The senior team finished second in Málaga, we were group champions and we stayed in the play offs… Their coach, Sergio Pérez, has formed an exceptional team with good dynamics. The cadets also finished group champions in their category. Led by María Gambero, they had a fantastic season.
-Did you expect so much success in such a short time?
-If I’m honest, maybe I didn’t expect so much, but I knew it wasn’t going to be little because the players have a lot of quality and qualities and are very committed to the club.
-Rocío, has Benalmádena always been able to boast of good soccer players?
-Yes of course. The first women’s team was created about 28 years ago, I seem to remember. We got Paco Pineda, a former Real Madrid player, and a relative of one of the club’s directors today, Elisabeth Criado, to train us and we did well. In the end, that women’s soccer team in Benalmádena was eventually lost, the girls had to go to other clubs to continue playing and competing…
The girls who have been growing in football have really come from the Benamiel mixed teams. Realize that there has never been a women’s team for little girls here, the one that was formed at the time was of a higher category, so when they grew up, and even more so if they excelled, they had to play with clubs from outside the municipality.
-How is this season planned?
-If I’m honest, last year was when I started the women’s club, with everything that entails since five teams were set up, I had it much easier…
-What problems have you encountered this year?
-The main one is the lack of field. After how well last season went and the boom that women’s football has experienced, we received many requests from girls who wanted to join the club. In terms of numbers, we started with the senior team that already came from the hand of Sergio Perez, its current coach, and 12 girls of younger ages, we finished the season with 80 and this season we would have had many more than 100. In April, based on demand, we organized the groups and requested space from the City Council, but they told us that there are no municipal facilities for us because all the schedules are assigned. Note that they are also rented to clubs and associations. Atlético Benamiel CF gave us hours and gave up its technical training, but it was not enough and a few days ago, September 13 to be exact, the City Council proposed the provisional option of training on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the sports center from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. hours. Can I ask girls of 12, 13 or 14 years old to train at that time? In principle I do not see it as feasible and in fact, many of them have not been able to wait for a definitive solution and have gone to other clubs in neighboring municipalities.
The seniors work and study and the only thing they asked me was to know in enough time the training schedule to combine them with their obligations. Now, a few days before the league starts, I can’t make changes to that team.
-How many teams have you lost this season due to lack of field?
-Well, we wanted to form a senior B with the cadets who were passing through the year this season and with those who have arrived to try out for the club, but it will not be possible and we have also lost the children’s 7-a-side football and the possibility of creating a school to train the youngest girls.
-Do you have the support of the men’s club?
-Since the first day. Although we are different clubs, we started thanks to the men’s club that from minute one sacrificed and gave us space, made the material available to us and supported us unconditionally.
-Have you considered renting facilities in other municipalities?
-In desperation we have indeed thought about it. But the problem is money. Even with the same expenses, our fees are much lower than in men’s soccer. We go to the games outside because the parents transport the players… last year, thanks to the help of sponsors and the City Council, we were able to financially save the season. Although, as I indicated, what worried me most was having field availability because without facilities, the club cannot advance and probably not even maintain itself over time.
-Given this panorama, what future do you predict for women’s football in Benalmádena?
-I’m going to be very honest with you. Either they give us municipal facilities to train or women’s football dies again in Benalmádena. The club cannot always have the four teams it currently has because the girls are getting older, and if we cannot give them options they will go to another team, as they have already done, who have gone to Torremolinos or Alhaurín… If they can’t play in their municipality, it’s obvious, they leave. The City Council talks to us about building new sports facilities, but the club has to look at today, now… we cannot wait three years or however long it takes bureaucratically to carry out this type of project.
-It must be frustrating to know that it doesn’t matter how much effort the club and the players make because without facilities they won’t be able to get where they deserve…
-Yes. We have invested a lot of effort in the club, a lot of dedication, the girls have given everything in training and competitions, but without facilities the castle, no matter how big it is at the moment, falls down without us being able to do anything to remedy it. In no case do we want to harm the men’s clubs, or take away their hours… but it is the municipal managers who have to find solutions and bet on sports, for men and women alike. What they can’t tell me is “if you can’t grow, don’t grow” or “don’t say no to any girl” because if they don’t give me scope, where do they train? This year, unfortunately, the women’s soccer club has taken a forced step back. Maybe if that hour from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the sports center had been proposed to me months before, when I requested it, it could have fit the older girls’ schedule, but now in September it is too late. The only hour we have gotten extra this year on the El Tomillar field has been because the men’s Benamiel has given up its technicalization… In the end, without municipal sports facilities, without hours to train, women’s football in Benalmádena has to continue fighting with all its strength so as not to be doomed to die without any remedy, when in just one year of life it has shown that athletes have everything what is necessary to reach the top.