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Football is regularly referred to as “The Beautiful Game” and for good reason. The sport itself involves the brain, the body and, as claimed by many, the soul. For lovers of the game, it is the closest a sport can come to the art form which is ballet. Each match consists of 11 players partaking in an exercise in improvisation in order to achieve a common goal. When it comes to the football clubs that facilitate these encounters, they hold the ability to provide a sense of belonging to an entire city.
When it comes to the city of Málaga, Málaga Club de Fútbol (Málaga CF) is an optimum example of this. The club promotes the sense of belonging that only organised football manages to muster up within a dense community. With the club’s history being traced back to 1904, it has been intertwined with the culture of the city for over 100 years.
This article has been put together to introduce you to an alternative way to experience Málaga as a local. While there are already fantastic online guides on Málaga sights, of which there are some spectacular ones you should most definitely check out, we wanted to focus on something a little bit different. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how embracing a local football team can bring you closer to what it means to be from Málaga.
If You Build It, They Will Come
La Rosaleda Stadium, translated to the Rose Garden Stadium, has been the home of football in Malaga since its official inauguration on the 14th of September 1941. The stadium itself has an impressive capacity of 30,044, making it the 18th largest stadium in Spain and the 4th largest in Andalusia. To demonstrate the ties this football club has with its local community, the Costa del Sol Trophy Cup is organized every year in collaboration with the Municipality of Málaga. While there have been several years since the inaugural event in 1961 in which the tournament has not taken place, it is looked upon with incredible honor by the local community.
The stadium was one of the 17 host stadiums for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, hosting a total of three matches. Outside of football, the stadium has hosted a number of high-profile concerts including George Michael, Shakira, Maná, and Alejandro Sanz.
The Meaning of the Ritual
As alluded to earlier, football is much more than just a game to the locals, who attend in eager anticipation each week to watch their beloved team perform. As with every football club that holds a significant place within the local community, the surrounding areas – including the restaurants, bars, and public parks – become a part of the weekly ritual. Fans begin filling every crevice in and around the stadium hours before kick-off, making the perfect spectacle for people watching.
Following the build-up, the game itself is both a visit to a historical landmark and, hopefully, an entertaining sporting event. The noise of the crowd is something that perfectly articulates the relationship the local fans have with the club, their city, and their fellow inhabitants.
The Bottom Line
It is very common for tourists to say that they want to experience life as a local when they visit a new location. Attending a football game is one of the best ways to do this as you are quite literally walking in the footsteps of millions of locals for generations. In essence, you experience what thousands of locals do every single weekend and what could be more personal than that?