2 June 2020

“In soccer, these young people have found a way to escape their problems”

Juan Manuel Montilla (‘El Langui’), the Spanish actor and rapper, is known as a being a public figure who advocates for equal opportunities in his television appearances and songs. He is an example of self-improvement, vitality and hard work.  

Besides the small screen, music and cinema, ‘El Langui’ also likes to dedicate part of his time to soccer and the people of his neighborhood, Pan Bendito. This is why he created Club Atlético Pan Bendito, which currently collaborates with Gate of Football in Spain, as part of the association A MÍ NO ME DIGAS QUE NO SE PUEDE’ (Don’t tell me it’s not possible) that aims to design a space for children in their own neighborhood where their opinions count and to create a healthy leisure offering based on culture and sports through their needs and likes.

Today we are talking to Juan Manuel, one of our Gatekeepers, so he can tell us what his NGDO consists of and how GATE and Club Pan Bendito join forces on the playing field to make children happier. 

What is the Pan Bendito Club? 

We are a socio-cultural association called ‘A MÍ NO ME DIGAS QUE NO SE PUEDE’ (Don’t Tell Me It’s Not Possible) that offers healthy alternatives to young people. Within it, we have the sports side where we’ve created the Pan Bendito Athletic Club, through which we offer completely free scholarships to children and young people from the neighborhood or the surrounding area. At present, we have more than 80 children from a range of origins, of Romani ethnicity or refugees who share difficult family situations or are suffering economically, among other problems. 

What is the club’s mission? 

We try to help children develop social-emotional skills through soccer. We give these young people tools so that, by practicing them on the field of play, they can then apply them in their daily lives. For example, if they lose 7-0 in a game today and that creates a sense of frustration, we teach them how to manage those emotions. That way, if they have a problem with their boss or their wife in the future, they’ll manage not to lash out and resort to violence as an answer. That’s why we focus on working on values such as teamwork, commitment and attitude. 

This club also acts an outlet for these young people who see soccer as a way to escape the problems they’re exposed to in their lives, by enjoying themselves with their friends, playing sports and learning about values. 

How did the collaboration between Pan Bendito and Gate of Football begin? 

We’re always open to new collaborations and especially if they’re in line with our values, as is the case with Gate. Both foundations are approaching this season with our teams of professionals working together on the same pitch, in the Pan Bendito neighborhood. 

For our part, we have a technical staff consisting of a sports director and a coordinator, two coaches per category, as well as a team of sports psychologists. Our experts are joined by those of Gate of Football. For example, Gate’s sports psychologist is with the children every day. Before each training session, she gathers them round and works with them on the values they will later put into practice by playing soccer. This specialist also carries out constant monitoring of the children and organizes meetings with the parents, among other actions. 

If we need more staff, such as coaches or assistants, we turn to Gate to help us find them. In addition to this support, Gate takes care of 50% of the expenses related to the costs of coaches, contracts, referees, etc.