Nan’s Day Out to the beautiful game and following Rafa

By Shirley Roberts and Pics by Gary Lloyd Rees

A local Nan like me hangs out in unlikely places. Basketball courts, football pitches, tennis clubs and swimming pools amongst them. All these facilities are to be found in the Soller Valley and all have locations befitting film sets. The splendour of the Tramuntana is all around and the backdrop to our local children’s sports activities.

The Soller Football Club ground is 97 years old, its birthday was on August 24th. The stadium was built in the centre of town about 5 minutes walk from the town square. Of course when it was built it was on the outskirts of town but these days the urban sprawl has caught up with it and placed it bang in the centre. It has to be the most beautiful football pitch in the world with spectacular mountain scenery all around. It is a very well used club and has its own café within the grounds to feed the never ending supply of the Soller population who use the pitch and facilities.

It is home to the Soller Football Team who came into being in 1954. They are still looking forward to better days in the league. It is also a very significant location for hundreds of young people who use the space every week.

This is the sort of club that has hundreds of bikes left propped up against the wall. The children get on their bike and cycle to the pitch, play football and then cycle home again. The exercise regime for these children is first class and they are very enthusiastic. The children’s soccer life is very well organised with the early training programmes leading to a place with the team which is affiliated to the Spanish Federation of Junior Football.

The ‘Federation’ is much revered and it is the players ambition to be spotted by one of the Federation’s coaches and offered a place on the Team. This is certainly the children’s desire and of course the ‘Soccer Moms and Dads’ will support their children. Girls Football is very much a feature of 2020 and being encouraged all over the Valley.

The beautiful game is loved on this Island and in every village. The Soller football pitch is in the memory box of generations and will continue.

The Soller Tennis and Swimming club is situated slightly up the mountain from the football pitch and just superbly situated. The pool used to be the only public pool of Soller until the indoor one was built. For three months of summer this place becomes Soller’s exclusive pool club. A minimal entrance fee to stay most of the day, it becomes Soller families meeting place most afternoons.

Over the years this location has expanded and now has many tennis courts and facilities. A Tennis Club and lessons are available and occasionally a visit from the greats of the tennis world. The owners of the club are Rafa’s friends and he occasionally comes by to support the young tennis players and have a chat with Soller friends. Summer visitors are pretty fed up when they go to Manacor to hopefully see him, when that day he has actually been chatting in Soller.

Summer holiday schools are my experience of this place. In the three-month school holidays all the sporting facilities of the area offer summer schools. This was a favourite of my granddaughters between the ages of 7 and 11 years. My days were often spent watching the swimming or tennis improving.

The availability of great facilities has happened in our lifetime here. We watched as the courts were built and the swimming pool improved. An outdoor sporting life is high on the list for families relocating. This is so dependent on the weather and in this we are blest.

Most Soller schools have little outside space of any note. No playing fields or sports pitches exist and all the outdoor sports happen out of school time. The parental commitment to the sports teams is huge and why the whole town seems to support one local team or another, depending which their child plays for. The wide open spaces, mountains, sea plus all the great sports facilities make the Soller Valley children incredibly fortunate.

As a Nan’s Day Out, it is great to wander in their world. The chats to other grandparents doing exactly the same as me is a huge bonus…

Leave a Reply