PB Gent Blaugrana d'Anfa: Supporting Barça as fans did 30 years ago
REPORTS 27 Apr 2020 - Supporters' Clubs World Confederation
In addition to promoting multiple solidarity initiatives, this Casablanca-based supporters’ club still cherishes the ritual of gathering together to watch every Barça match, without fail
Morocco is one of the countries with the greatest passion for football and the legion of FC Barcelona fans and supporters throughout the territory is partially to blame. Proof of this is the fact that more than half of the official supporters’ clubs in Africa are Moroccan. One of the most active is Gent Blaugrana d'Anfa (GBA), which is based in Casablanca and chaired by Youssef Bennani.
While the club was founded in late 2012 and given official status a few months later, its members have been united by their support for FC Barcelona for much longer. 'My father has been a Barça fan his entire life, so I've been surrounded by this passion since childhood,' recalls Bennani. 'And the same thing has happened in my home. Actually, it was my wife, Mouana, who suggested we become an official supporters’ club', he notes.
For GBA, supporting Barça doesn't make sense without the ritual of gathering together to watch every single match and spend some time as a group. In this regard, Youssef Bennani has not forgotten the words of Antoni Guil, President of the Supporters' Clubs World Confederation, during a visit to Morocco: 'He said that the essence of our support for FC Barcelona through both the good times and the bad reminded him of the way he supported the team 30 years ago, which missed somehow'.
Radio stars and frequent travellers
While gathering to watch the matches is a must, the supporters’ club's activity goes beyond than just that. They often enjoy recreational outings with their families and other activities aimed at children or the elderly. They also spread support for FC Barcelona on their own weekly radio programme called 'Barça Café' on Radio Mars, one of Morocco's main sports broadcasters. In this show, different Penya members take turns each week commenting on blaugrana news.
Moreover, thanks to the short distance to Spain, GBA is also able to make two club trips per year: one to visit Camp Nou and another to see their team play in Sevilla. 'Our last visit to Barcelona was really complete. We went to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper complex and the new Johan Cruyff Stadium. But, personally, my favourite moment was when we unveiled our plaque on door 76', Bennani explains. It is also possible to spot GBA members in the stands at almost every important Barça match, including, of course, the big finals.
Important solidarity projects
GBA may be a young supporters’ club, but it has an important history of solidarity and has always shown a strong social commitment to its community. Its most ambitious project was the recent refurbishment of a large paediatric chemotherapy unit in a public hospital. The entire Penya actively participated in the project, either through financial contributions or by providing services and materials. The club's commitment to fighting cancer can also be seen in its participation in the 'Match de l’Espoir' (Match of Hope), a day of matches and activities to benefit an association dedicated to the battle against cancer.
Youth education is also a priority for GBA and, in this field, it has a surprising and invaluable partner: a supporters’ club for the eternal rival. 'I have a close friendship with the chairman of the Casablanca Real Madrid Supporters’ Club, and we both want our children to enjoy this rivalry in a healthy way, which is definitely missing in Morocco,' says Bennani. Each year, during the Clásico, these two penyes hold the Friendship Tournament, which brings together more than 120 children from six orphanages, as well as fans and supporters from both teams, for fair play matches. So fair, in fact, that all the jerseys—which emulate FC Barcelona and Real Madrid designs—bear the crests of both supporters’ clubs.
In short, the GBA penya knows not just how to uphold the essence of a more emotional kind of support for FC Barcelona but also fully understands and transmits its defining values.