Similar to my recent week in Lanzarote, which you can read about here, I got on another plane, and this time flew to mainland Spain, right down south to Malaga.
Thanks to the excellent people at The Game, I was asked to go to Benalmadena, a small town near Malaga, right on the beach. It's the most British place I have ever experienced outside of the UK. Spanish was hardly spoken, and most signs were in English. There were Brits and Irish everywhere, enjoying the Easter break, and soaking up the sun and the sand. It's such a popular tourist destination, that two Facebook friends saw I was there, and contacted me. One had passed through that day, and another was arriving the day I was leaving.
It probably has the highest Irish pub per capita that I've ever experienced. There were also other themed pubs, specifically a Rangers pub, and a Newcastle United pub. There's also a fish and chips restaurant, owned by an old British couple. I got to have fish and chips while looking at the Mediterranean sea. That's quite an experience! Truly this place could have been a British enclave, much like Gibraltar just down the coast. The chips were proper chips, like we get back home.
What can you do as a tourist? I'd have to say the biggest appeal of Benalmadena is that you can do everything from back home, just in a warmer location. There are bars and restaurants lining the promenade, lots of shops, swimming pools, nice hotels, a casino, and of course, the beach. Not every trip abroad has to be an awe inspiring vacation where you find yourself immersed in another culture. The kind of people who go to Benalmadena are looking to switch off and relax for a few days, leaving behind the grind and mundane lifestyles, enjoying time to recover and perhaps over indulge, in a place that is familiar, cheap, quick to get to, and very much like home.
The south of Spain is a popular destination for lads, stag and hen parties, sports holidays, family holidays, and people who just want to sit by the pool or the beach. There's no judgement and everyone is welcome. The bars and restaurants serve all your favourite food, from back home and and around the world. And you'll find all kinds of football on the TVs, so keeping up with your team and the big games will be easy.
If you don't speak any Spanish, you'll be absolutely fine. There's Brits and Irish working everywhere, and being a popular tourist destination, most of the locals speak good enough English to get you by. The supermarkets sell your favourites from back home, be it Heinz Baked Beanz or Robinson's.
The football is your typical camp coaching you'd have done plenty of times before. What's needed is a minimum level one coaching qualification. As a coach, you have to provide lots of fun games, lots of skills, and all the old tried and true camp games and exercises kids have loved for generations. Fun is paramount, as it should always be. The kids are on holiday, and don't expect long winded explanations, immense tactical detail, and intense demonstrations. With the majority of your kids coming from the British and Irish Isles, you have to be aware that they melt when temperatures go above twenty degrees Celsius. As such, you'll need plenty of breaks, and plenty to drink. That's both you and the kids.
Lots of breaks also help to figuratively and literally break up the day. If you have low numbers, or a wide range of abilities, some of your best games and exercises may not work, or they may feel stale. Changing it up every fifteen minutes keeps the kids from dropping off, allows them to recharge their batteries, and pre-empts moving on an activity before it becomes too boring. Some days you can have loads of kids, other days you can have a few. That's just the nature of it, as these kids are on their family vacations, and may have things planned on other days, so will drop in and out during the week.
You do two hours of coaching in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, and stay with the kids for their hour lunch on site. As this was a new camp, the first one ran in Benalmadena, we had to do a lot of work to get the word out. This meant once or twice a day going on long walks around town, visiting hotels, pubs, and restaurants. Pretty much anywhere you'd expect Brits to congregate. I think I've now done the longest pub crawl in history for a non drinker.
There's a lot more football in the area, for those who want to explore. As you know, Spain is football crazy, and futsal is huge too, in addition to beach soccer. People wearing football shirts are in no short supply, and if watching one of the many games on TV in one of the many pubs or restaurants showing it is not for you, you're never far from a game breaking out, whether that's kids in the sand, or a local amateur or semi-pro team training or playing.
For Spanish football fans, your local professional team would obviously be Malaga CF.
But you're also not too far away from the likes of Real Betis and Sevilla.
Notice the lack of roofs in these stadiums, alluding to the lack of rain experienced by Spanish football fans.
What would life be like if you could just grab a few mates and have a kick around here?
Let's have a look at where you stay.
Where do you stay? In a THB Hotel, of course. You get a nice room with a private balcony, three meals a day from the buffet, a pool, and even a gym. Why would you need a gym if you're coaching for four hours and also walking down to the beach with some flyers? It could be because of the food. Holiday buffets are dangerous.
Where do you coach? On the hotel's very own tennis/futsal/basketball court.
Can you see yourself working here for a week or two during school holidays?
Maybe you need to know where there is to do in your free time.
A bit of football?
Swimming in the Mediterranean?
Enjoying the warm weather?
Walks along the beach?
Checking out the local sights?
Enjoying fine cuisine?
Going for a pint at Weatherspains?
Hanging out at the marina where you can go eating, drinking, shopping, clubbing, and sailing?