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“Laietà is not a club, it is a miracle”

BarcelonaOn December 8, 1922, CE Laietà and Europa played the first basketball game in history in Catalonia. A century later, sport has nothing to do with it, but some of its values ​​remain intact thanks to the work of an entity that proudly celebrates its centenary.

“The club was born at 134 Provença Street in Barcelona. The initial desire was to create a neighborhood entity with elite players and then it became a city club with reference schools. The first basketball team consisted of Guix, Pla, Romeva, Muscat and Garreta. When they started playing, in 1922, there was not even a basketball federation and the entity signed up for the tennis federation ”, explains Tito Donada. When he was three months old they already registered him and now he is the number 1 partner of an entity with as much history as stories.

“The Laietà tradition is legendary. The first matches were played on an eleven-on-eleven football field. Then, little by little, the game evolved. The club was always in the front line, but the final explosion came in the 40s, when he was proclaimed champion of Spain twice. The five owners of that team, which was made up of Kucharski, Font, Esteve, Navarret and Gàlvez, lived in the neighborhood, ”recalls Emilio Becker, a former player who values ​​the work of the pioneers. As he walks around the club, he tells anecdotes that make him fall in love because they serve to travel to another era. “When professionalism arrived, the club maintained its amateur commitment. The only advantage they had was that they could make use of the facilities, receive the equipment and get a ticket to be able to go on Sunday to make vermouth at the bar. Most of the players did not charge, but the key was the atmosphere in the club. Basketball became very popular everywhere in Catalonia, where it was the number 1 sport in many places, ”he says.

Things were not as they are now. “When the league was launched, many players from all teams were trained at Laietà. Early basketball was very primitive. There was a defender who did not pass from the middle of the field, as if it were football. The players threw in the basket with both hands “, remembers Becker. Those matches served to discover new ways of doing things. “The first game played five against five was against Hindu, an Argentine club. Laietà took advantage of that learning to evolve his game and take advantage of the other rivals of the time “, adds Donada.

In the 1950s, basketball was played on the aircraft carriers of the American army that were moored in the port of Barcelona. “One of the great innovators was Eduard Kucharski, a very intelligent man who dominated all sports. He was one of the first players to start adapting things from foreigners, such as shooting with one hand or in suspension. He practiced a lot and was a great pioneer “, says Becker.

Madrid changes the rules

Fernando Muscat was one of the best players of the time and participated with the Spanish team in the first European Championship, which was held in 1935 in Geneva. “Once we lost a final against Madrid in an unusual way. Laietà were winning thanks to an innovative defense in the area, but a player from the white team, Carlos Sevillano, sat on the ball and the game stopped. Pedro Ferrándiz, the coach, got the referees to force Laietà to defend individually. The rules of the game changed with the game in play, ”said Donada, who took advantage of the confinement to investigate unknown passages in history. The great obsession of this club historian is to give voice to the generations that preceded him.

“Laietà was and is special because the relationship was permanent, as you lived in the club, which was like your second home. The proof is that at that time many marriages came out of the club. Laietà is not a club, it is a miracle. In 1964 the club suffered an unexpected eviction. That adversity drove the strength of the partners, who came together so that the sporting activity would not stop. We wrote letters to all the clubs and institutions in Spain and we got financial help that allowed us to move to the current terrain “, says Becker. “The activity was maintained thanks to two clubs, Father Manyanet and Pompeii, who left us their facilities to continue playing basketball, tennis and hockey,” adds Donada. The strength of the people transformed that adversity into one of the great strengths of the club, a brotherhood that is never questioned.

“Very powerful human stories”

Laietà is taking advantage of the year of its centenary to organize many activities that will serve so that the club’s legacy is not lost. “Being a member is one thing, but being the president of the centenary is a great luck and has allowed me to discover anecdotes that I would never have known. This club is like a family and hides some very powerful human stories. I feel privileged to have proudly collected the legacy of a hundred years of history “, acknowledges Jaume Riera, president of the entity.

“When you talk about sports clubs, there is often an economic interest. We have managed to maintain the values ​​and principles of a century ago. We have adapted to the new times, but Laietà is still a family club that maintains its essence. There are clubs where people go, play sports and go without knowing what the person next door is called. Not here, there is a very strong social fabric and that is what makes us different. People come, do sports, have a beer, take an interest in how things are going for you, start a conversation … It’s a way of understanding life ”, he sums up. Don’t lie. Every time you cross paths with someone, the conversation is inevitable.

“Things are changing, but there are a number of clubs, not just ours, that refuse to lose our essence. We are often told about franchises and sources of investment, but we are interested in people. There are a number of intercultural and intergenerational values ​​that endure over time. There is a way to make it move from parents to children and this is our great strength “, boasts Riera, who can’t help but make a basket throw during the photo shoot.

“Our training schools are very successful and this allows us to visualize the future with optimism. There comes an age when young people with progress are looking for other environments to stand out, but we are not worried. We don’t care about money or championships, we just keep the flame alive in a way that is part of our lives, ”he argues.

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