Hard times bring player’s community closer together

Hard times bring player’s community closer together

Aitor Lara

Miguel Calero Montiel’s parents, Miguel and Josefa, moved to Parla—a town about 12 miles outside of Madrid—30 years ago with their young daughters, now 30 and 35. It was a growing town. Beginning in the 1970s, middle class families from within Spain settled in Parla to be closer to the capital. In the years since, migrants have come from AlgeriaMoroccoPolandsub-Saharan Africa and China—creating somewhat of a melting pot.

No longer a bedroom community, Parla has its own city center with malls and entertainment complexes. Public transportation crosses the city and its commercial avenue, uniting it and bringing it closer to Madrid and surrounding towns like Pinto—where Miguel Calero Montiel plays with his third-division team, Pinto Athletic Club.

Parla is the only home Miguel has known. La Granja, the neighborhood where he lives with his family, is a working-class neighborhood—modest, old and a bit run-down. A zone of low-cost buildings with state-subsidized housing is mixed with new construction and shopping centers. Miguel is popular among the neighbors, in a community where everyone seems to know one another. The changes in the neighborhood and the difficulties from the financial crisis seem to have only brought this community closer together—both out of necessity and a spirit of survival.

Like many suburbs, the streets are quiet. Malls and parks have young families and, of course, kids kicking the ball around, but it is in the bars where the local soccer culture comes to life. People put on their jerseys and during a match you can hear the shouts of the fans. Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid remain a great rivalry, with Atletico now the best team in the league. Cheers and tears are seen and heard at the matches—as in towns throughout the world, football here arouses many passions.

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