PB Fuentealbilla: the village from La Mancha with the most blaugrana spirit
REPORTS 12 Dec 2018 - CMP
In 2002, the blaugrana supports club became official and since then its inhabitants have shown unconditional support for the club and the former Blaugrana player Andrés Iniesta
Over two decades ago, a village from the Spanish region of La Mancha with only 2,000 inhabitants bid farewell to a brave 12-year-old who was heading for Barcelona: Andrés Iniesta. From that moment on, and despite the distance that separates Fuentealbilla from Barcelona, a group of villagers and family members became active supporters of Barça, and of the young player who several years later would become a figurehead for the culers.
The birth of a passion
The blaugrana feeling first took root in a small group of villagers who always met up to watch the Barça games. This group of friends and relatives started to multiply at the same rate that Andrés Iniesta turned into a benchmark for FC Barcelona, and in January 2002, the village’s Peña Andrés Iniesta was officialised.
Iniesta became a figurehead for the village, which describes itself as “culer, but most of all Iniestist." A feeling that is reciprocated, as thanks to the player most blaugrana supporters on both a national and international scale can now identify Fuentealbilla on the map, a recognition that has encouraged its members to continue to grow and promote initiatives. Last year in fact, this blaugrana movement clocked up a total of 330 members, becoming the largest Barça entity in Castile La Mancha.
Moments that won’t be forgotten
Since the beginning, the supporters club members have got together at their headquarters to watch the FC Barcelona games. They have travelled together to support the Club, and organised raffles and dinners. Some events, however, will always hold a special place in their hearts.
One of these was the weekend of July 10th, 2015, when the Fuentealbilla locals organised a series of events to support the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC), which were attended by Andrés Iniesta. Together with other players from Albacete, the blaugrana star gave a colloquium which was followed by a large dinner attended by Silvia Dorschnerova, manager of the Spanish National Team. Vicente del Bosque, who was unable to attend for health reasons, also sent a video message which provided the final touch to one of the members’ most fondly remembered initiatives.
Iniesta’s family, backbone of the supporters club
“The family is an extension of Andrés. They participate in the events and accompany us on our trips to Barcelona." In fact, supporters club president Andrés Garcia describes how the player’s relatives have been key ever since the beginning, and founding the supporters club has been just one of their many feats. García recalls the day when, thanks to Iniesta’s father, he witnessed the Club’s Champions League victory in the company of the first team players, an experience he’ll never forget. These sincere and humble gestures have consolidated the supporters club movement in the village as a close-knit family that grows larger by the day, and this in turn has brought them closer to the blaugrana colours.
The future of the supporters club
Last spring, the manchego player played his last match in the blaugrana colours at Camp Nou. Watched by his unconditional supporters, Iniesta bid farewell to the Club of his dreams 22 years after first joining them. The president of the PB Fuentealbilla describes Iniesta’s departure to Japan as being “like the oriental cuisine, sweet and sour.”
On the one hand, it’s sad to think that the distance will prevent them from watching their idol in real time. But on the other, they are extremely happy to know that he ended his career as a premier footballer in the way he had always hoped: at Barça, with an unbeatable farewell and a Copa del Rey goal against Seville watched by the 60 plus Fuentealbilla penyistes who’d travelled to Barcelona especially for the occasion.