Catalonia Making Progress ..

Leading up to a hectic fortnight in late June we were planning a small rest period back in Paris. However that was not to be the case and as FIT Secretary-General I received an invitation from Antoni Marín Muntané, Vice-President of the ACT Touch Club, who had completed the L1 coaching course in Toulouse, to Carol and I fly down to Barcelona for two days. The visit was to be a fact-finding mission to better understand the cultural and political situation in Catalonia and also to meet some of those directly responsible for the support of sport. Catalonia is categorised by FIT as a “Developing Nation” and it was important to understand the history, background and regional issues surrounding the pending application for FIT membership. The borders of the nation are within those of the geographic region of Spain. So we moved our planned travel from Strasbourg back to Paris a day earlier and on Wednesday 10th June flew from Paris down to Barcelona.

The history, culture and architecture of the city were mind-blowing and the region is a “tourist’s Mecca” . . . Columbus, Gaudi, Santa Maria, Romans, to drop just a few names, and we found ourselves most welcomed in a country that is as sport mad as those of us from Down-under. On the Wednesday evening we met with Juan José Hernández, the General Manager of Catalan Rugby Union, another sport that is also finding it a little difficult to expand or develop, as it uses the rather foreign “oval” ball. I discussed with Juan José ways in which the various non-football (soccer) sports could possibly work together, especially in the early stages of development and especially with juniors and beginners.

Another of the more important and pleasant occasions was a business lunch on Thursday 11th with Mr. Xavier Vinyals, President of the Platform Pro-Seleccions Esportives Catalanes and Mr. Sergi Blazquez, Sportive Lawyer, Secretary of the Catalan Touch Association and Vice-President of the Catalanes Platform. Mr Vinyals was most interested in Touch and although not having yet witnessed a game, indicated strong support for the development of the sport in Catalonia.

In the early evening we headed for a formal reception at the historic Catalonian Parliament where we learnt about wars that were over well before the history of modern Australia had even begun. We were honoured to have an audience with MH Ernest Benach i Pascual, the President of Catalonia (Parlament de Catalunya), who reiterated the interwoven relationship between Catalonian culture, politics and sport, and who made it very clear that his government would support development of Touch once it was recognised as a member of the Federation. After dinner with the locals and a too-short sleep, we jumped back on a Clickair flight to Paris to prepare for this weekend’s L1 course.

Check out some of the amazing architecture that may be found in Barcelona in the Gallery.


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