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Spanish lessons from Phoenix score in class

Nov 7th, 2012 | By | Category: News

WELLINGTON Phoenix players Dani Sanchez, left, and Ricardo Clake bring their skills inside at Wellington College.

HOLA! Wellington College tiene una idea de España esta semana, con la visita de algunos futbolistas de habla hispana.

Does that sound like gibberish to you? It’s not to the Spanish students of Wellington College who were visited by Spanish speaking footballers this week.

Thanks to Google Translate, the sentence literally says: “Hello! Wellington College has an idea of Spain this week, with the visit of some Spanish speaking players.”

The footballers from Wellington Phoenix have teamed up with the Spanish Embassy to promote two Spanish passions – the language and football.

Education and sport consultant for the embassy, Pablo Mateu, is enthusiastic about encouraging Kiwi’s to learn the language, the second most spoken and studied worldwide.

He also has a passion for football, which is understandable for a man who hails from Spain, home of the current World Cup champions, commonly known as “La Furia Roja” – The Red Fury.

“Our main goal is promoting Spanish, but we’re delighted to have also football and New Zealand teams on board. It’s like a win-win situation,” Mr Mateu said.

“We have all the support from the teams, they’re delighted and so are we.”

Mr Mateu’s initiative, Spanish Football, aims to get students more interested in learning Spanish through the use of Spanish-speaking players from Wellington and Auckland, and the players use the project to promote their game.

“Both teams want to be closer to their communities and promote football in New Zealand. They believe this programme will help them achieve that and we know it will,” Mr Mateu said.

The project was offered to all schools in New Zealand who offer, or are willing to offer, a Spanish programme to their students, and operates in two parts.

The first part is spent in the classroom, where the students are invited to speak in full immersion Spanish, the official language of 21 countries throughout the world.

Then it is outside to work on some football skills with players such as Phoenix players Dani Sanchez and Ricardo Clarke.

The initiative started in Auckland earlier this month, in conjunction with the Auckland City Football Club, and their Spanish speaking team members Manel Exposito, Angel Viña Berlanga and Pedro Santa.

Mr Mateu was overwhelmed to receive applications from more than 50 schools nationwide, and says he is excited to spread the project throughout New Zealand next year.

“We wanted to start to see how it worked, and we are very pleased with the outcome,” he said.

“The students were delighted and they had a lot of fun and that helps, it’s like an extra motivation to study Spanish and to play football.”

Right Col 80×80:
Lead and category image: Fairfax NZ:Craig Simcox
Story published in the Dominion Post on Thursday 29/11/12

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