The first Catalan basketball game celebrates a century

BarcelonaBig day for Catalan basketball. This Thursday will mark one hundred years since the first documented basketball match in Catalonia, a match that was played on December 8, 1922. Europe prevailed in Laietà by 8-2. “This first game in which the points and the final result were counted was the result of the schoolboy Eusebio Millán, who began to promote basketball at the Pious Schools of Sant Antoni in Barcelona. He contacted the CE Europe to organize a match, which was played on the grounds of Europe for a reason: the club had an athletics coach who made the athletes play basketball. The football field was located on the islands that form today’s streets Industry, Sardinia, Pare Claret and Sicily,” explains Lluís Puyalto, head of the Catalan Basketball Foundation archive.

“The game was played on a football field and the basket was located on the crossbar of the goals. The basket was therefore 2.44 meters high. The playing field was too big and the players had too much difficulty to run up and down. It ended up being played with seven players. The final score was 8-2. There aren’t many chronicles, but The Sports Day published on December 15 a photograph showing the basket, the players and the spectators behind the goal,” asserts Puyalto. According to Francesc Fernández, a basketball scholar, the author of the photograph could be Josep Gaspar or F. Colomé The organizers of the match edited and distributed around 200 regulations among the attendees.

An investigation by Puyalto shows that two days later, on Sunday, December 10, 1922, Europe and Laietà again faced the same scenario. The second game was also won by Europe, although the final result and lineups are not known. A few months after that match, in April 1923, the first Catalan Championship was played at La Foixarda, in Montjuïc.

Both Europa, which will premiere a short film this Thursday, and Laietà, which on Monday will receive a replica of the Spanish champion title it won in 1942, will celebrate the centenary with pride these days. “El Laietà was born at number 134 of Carrer Provença in Barcelona. The initial intention was to create a neighborhood entity with elite players and then it became a city club with reference schools. When they started playing, in 1922, there wasn’t even a basketball federation and the organization registered with the tennis federation”, explains Tito Donada. When he was three months old, he was enrolled and now he is the number 1 member of an organization with as much history as stories.

Basketball in the early years was very primitive. There was a defender who did not go past the middle of the field, as if it were football. The players shot the basket with two hands. The first matches were played on an eleven-on-eleven football field. Then, little by little, the game evolved. The club was always at the forefront, but the definitive explosion came in the 1940s, when it was proclaimed champion of Spain twice,” recalls Emilio Becker, a former player who highlights the work of the pioneers.

Tito Donada, Jaume Riera and Emilio Becker

Laietà is taking advantage of the centenary year to organize many activities to ensure 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 about. This club is like a family and hides some very powerful human stories. I feel privileged to have proudly collected the heritage of a hundred years of history”, acknowledges Jaume Riera, president of the entity.


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