Archive for December, 2014
Promises Deliver Hope For The Football Future

There was a lot of hugging at the 19th International Under 12’s tournament in Playa de Las Americas. Each game of the three day football feast ended with warm handshakes and embraces between the young rivals. What there wasn’t a lot of was back chatting the officials, questioning every call, and theatrical rolling in agony. Full of hope and excitement the 14 teams delivered sublime skills and thrilling action at CD Marino’s stadium in Playa de Las Americas.

There was a major upgrade this year to La Liga Promises de Arona, the new name under the guidance of the LFP (Spain’s FA) and they widened their scope. As well as the top clubs in Spain sending players, the Aspire Academy of Qatar, and Kashiwa Reysol of Japan added an unknown element. There were also some returning guests like Juventus, Paris St Germain, Borrusia Dortmund, and Chelsea. The stage was more commercial, the shortened pitch had the digital advertising surround boards, and at one end a giant screen carried game details, and between the action some of the best video shots of the delights that Arona holidays have to offer – great promotion for Tenerife.

But it was still the football that attracted ever increasing crowds to see the short sharp games, the group stages were 12 minutes each way. The new boys of Qatar and Japan were by no means overawed, Japan in particular impressed with their one touch fast tactics. Juventus were again a little negative for my liking and Chelsea went out early with two losses. Barcelona didn’t make much impact and Real Madrid, with Theo Zidane (tournament top scorer) following in the old mans boot steps, had to fight back from a shaky couple of opening games.

Atletico were winners and runners up in the last two tournaments I saw and looked strong again with lots of skill up front and a couple of little battlers winning the ball off much bigger opponents. There were some striking differences in size, a year is a long time for fast growing lads so those at the earliest qualifying end of the age limit were noticeable. Last year Spain coach Vicente del Bosque (above middle with Arona mayor and sports councillor) came to present the trophies at the final, he was so impressed that he was back to watch all three days from pitch side and was clearly lapping up the action. There wasn’t five minutes passed without the coach being asked to pose for a photo, he never failed to agree and was a real gent, even when the entire Japan squad lined up one by one for pics.

By semi final time the competition was getting tough, many of the young lads wont have been used to 30 degrees of Tenerife sun, the pressure of expectancy, and the large television audience watching via several channels. The coaches were probably a bit uncomfortable at being wired up for sound and having cameras constantly in their faces but everyone performed with grace and good manners rarely seen in the big leagues. Atletico Madrid had a tense semi with Juventus and were grateful to their tiny goalie Miguel to keep it goal less so they could score a late winner. The other tie was even tighter with penalties needed to separate Real Madrid and Valencia, it came down to a Real spot kick pinging away off the post before Valencia grabbed the winner.

Onto the evening final with well over 6,000 fans packing in, all the games were free to watch, most people expected Atletico to build on their hot form against a patchy Valencia but you can never predict football. Valencia had done their homework and soaked up early pressure before Ferran grabbed an opener on the break. Mario equalized with a typically cheeky goal but Ferhat sent Valencia into the break 1-2 ahead by scoring after a superb save from Miguel. Atletico again pinned down Valencia at the start of the second half but they caught them with a strong break and another goal from Turkish player Ferhat. There was no way back from 1-3 down and the final whistle brought a joyous explosion of celebration from Valencia but they were quick to go and console their opposition before lifting the trophy.

It was another wonderful tournament, hopefully these players wont get too distracted by the trappings of fame as they move towards senior football. The new more glossy format worked well and I know a lot of local people watched it on the various channels as well as those who packed the stadium. More of the same please next year but it would be nice to have a side representing Tenerife in the competition.


Tis The Season To Be Almost Jolly For CD Tenerife

As entertainment it was on a par with being dragged out for Christmas shopping but a 1-0 home win for CD Tenerife over Sabadell ensured a relieved festive break. You can only work with what you’ve got and the players have done well to pull away from the drop zone with a rugged, defensive, and very cautious mind set.

Sabadell were poor, and that’s being generous to them, but despite the boost of forward Diego Ifran returning from suspension Tenerife played deep and made sure they were difficult to beat. The back four are playing with composure and a good understanding between them, Raul Camara and Hugo Alvarez were the pick of the bunch this week but none of them put a foot wrong and Carlos in goal is such a calming influence. Aitor Sanz was missed in midfield and Suso had one of his quieter games, his best move was to run into the female lineswoman, if only he had some mistletoe on him.

Aridane thought he had scored in the third minute but the ref ruled it out as he was clearly offside, Collantes could have made the breakthrough for Sabadell on the half hour but Carlos took the sting out of his shot before gathering the ball. Ifran came close with a curling shot from the left that drifted wide of the goal but he was to get his reward a few minutes later. A scuffed shot from Cristo caught the keeper by surprise, he thought he had covered it but with thee ball squirming under him he pulled it back with his foot and the ref gave a free kick – harsh but let’s call it our Christmas present. Ifran blasted the ball in the top right corner from six yards as the entire defense and keeper tried to block.

The second half was more ragged, the win was so important the players were reluctant to take chances. Yeray fired wide for the visitors when he should have tied the game. Aridane was replaced by Uli Davila after 60 minutes, The Mexican had a chance to book a longer stay in Santa Cruz but his scooped shot wide may be the last we see of him in our colours. Creating chances wasn’t high on the Tenerife agenda as the minutes ticked down, Eguaras gave Tenerife another let off before Victor Garcia made his home debut with just four minutes left. The midfielder only joined the B team in the summer and has made rapid progress, another plus point from the game.

The 7,057 crowd were ready to start the Christmas celebrations but the dying moments saw another clear opening for Sabadell that they spurned. That’s just one goal conceded in five games, January should bring a new striker or two, then maybe the play will become a bit more adventurous. For now though the players can reward themselves with a extra beer and helping of pudding.

Cherubs Candles Pink Poodles And Art By The Box Full

Whatever happened to paper chains and home made calendars, we even made little card baskets at infant school and were rewarded with a chocolate Santa as a passenger. A bit of imagination can go a long way to making special festive decorations so I was in my element at the Artbelen in the Centro de Arte La Recova in Santa Cruz. A big hall full of recycled winter treats including sweet wrapper bells was one of the highlights of my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz.

Rewinding to the La Laguna start point, a pair of coloured poodles on guard outside a shop reminded me that the day wasn’t just going to be about cribs and wise men. The psychedelic canines nearly sidetracked me from my meeting with the ducks in Parque de la Constitucion. Last years final touches to the fire damaged cathedral saw the removal of the ancient duck pond and the eviction of the waddling inhabitants, the feathers really flew as locals protested furiously. Eventually a new pond was built in the park at a cost of 100,000 euros and the ducks had recently been resettled. They looked well fed and happy, they weren’t even phased by me waving a box of Paxo stuffing at them.

Back down in La Laguna I found a familiar side street that always has some entertaining figures up high on the buildings. This year they had been embellished a little with nice capsules to sit in and little penguins for company. It was nice to see the smiles on peoples faces as they glanced up and clocked the colourful characters. It was all very whimsical and in keeping with the charming character of the interlocking streets. La Laguna seems to have side stepped the more vulgar and commercial trappings of Christmas, the indoor market in Plaza del Cristo was bustling and a giant stage was taking shape ready for the big fiesta nights ahead.

The best was yet to come in Santa Cruz, I had seen the Artbelen last year and was eager to see what they would make this time around. There were several big set pieces like a sprawling nativity scene made from pressed and twisted polythene but the overall theme was of presents bursting forth from boxes. Discarded day to day packaging had been transformed into fun creations full of colour and character. The material used included 2,500 plastic bottles, 60 carton tubes, 500 drink cans, and 300 square metres of wrapping paper. The hall is next to the Teatro Guimera and the exhibition is open until 5 January from 6pm to 10pm and free to go in.

There was only one thing that could top, or bottom, that and the tour of the traditional nativity belens, a Caganer. This Catalan tradition features a peasant in the nativity scene doing his own recycling by adding some home made fertilizer to the earth. I spotted one in the belen at CC Tres de Mayo taking a subtle dump in the shop window. I was chuckling all the way back to Los Cristianos.

Away In A Manger In La Laguna And Santa Cruz

Whether you call him Santa Claus or Papa Noel, the big jolly chap in the red suit is everywhere but there are more traditional figures to look out for as my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz revealed.

I’m not the most religious person and should be almost grown up by now but I still enjoy all the build up to the festive season. The enchanted faces and tuneful singing of a school party at Casa de Las Capitanes in La Laguna made a great first stop in my annual tour of the nativity based belens. It was rock solid old school in the central courtyard of the old building with the wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus joined by a few assorted farm animals. There were even more gasps of delight as the party moved into the display hall to walk around a large model depicting all the elements of the Christmas tale.

Up at the top end of town there was a display of art and relics at the Instituto de Canarias which fitted in nicely with the religious mood. Herencia unites paintings, statues, and artifacts from the long gone Iglesias de Los Remedios. Most of the items were from the 1,500 and 1,600’s including a striking wooden sculpture of Our Lady of the Remedios and an imposing study of San Miguel Arcangel about to smite the devil with his sword. This free exhibition goes on until 1 March 2015 with opening from Tuesday to Friday 11 to 2 and 5 to 8pm and just the early session on Saturdays and Sundays.

Not a bad haul for the first leg of my visit, the tram soon had me down in Santa Cruz with the Cabildo (Tenerife government) building on my list. This was the 26th year of their belen and as always it was a tasteful mix of the Christmas story with very detailed models of basic farming life in biblical times. A collection for charity is the price of admission, this year it is for UNICEF to help children. Basic opening hours are 9 to 3 and 4 to 9.30 pm, the exceptions are for 24 & 31 December when it’s just 9 to 3, and 25 December, and 1 & 6 January when it’s 4 to 9.30 pm.

A quick snack and some holy water (Dorada in my case) and I was back on the case just off Calle Castillo in the Caja Canarias bank HQ near Plaza del Principe. This is another regular stop and had been given a bit of a new look this season. Instead of being around the walls the scenes were grouped together in a central block depicting the shepherds in the hills, village life with moving models, and thee long trek of the three kings. What makes it special is the stream that trickles through the landscape and the lighting that dims and brightens to recreate the cycle of the day every few minutes. If you want to be captivated pop in until 5 January from 11.30 to 1.30 pm, and 5 to 8.30 pm, on Sundays 10 to 1.30 pm but closed on public holidays. On the way out I found some local mature musicians playing timple and belting out some cheery yuletide folk songs.

Just when I thought it was a wrap I found a new and unexpected late call, this time in the CC Tres de Mayo shopping centre just up from the bus station. Hiperdino supermarket have provided this one and it has a strong Canarian theme with several Tenerife landmarks on the skyline. A nice antidote to the commercial attractions of the centre and a pleasing sign off for my trip.

Ten Years Of Walk For Life Wrapped In A Big Pink Ribbon

More ambitious, more kms, and more satisfying than ever, in keeping with the tenth anniversary programme of ten events, this years Walk For Life (Carrera Por La Vida) went that little bit further. The pink parade of around 3,000 people was stretched at some points but with determination, goodwill, and good organization it surpassed the impact of the previous years.

There was a new starting point at Plaza City Centre in Playa de Las Americas and although my initial impression was a slightly smaller turnout, that soon changed as we turned onto Avenida Rafael Puig, many more supporters were spread out in the pedestrianised street and tagged onto the joyous procession. Some may find it strange to describe the breast cancer event as joyous but it’s about hope, survival, and progress as well as the loss of good friends and family. There are always a few tears but I love the feeling of friendship and support that bonds the whole day together.

The mayors of Arona and Adeje turned out and headed the march and with a drum band belting out a steady rhythm holiday makers emerged from their hotel pools and sun beds to cheer us as we passed by. The Polica Local ensured us a clear path as the pink tide swept down through the beach promenade and then up the hill to San Eugenio. The preparation was spot on, they even had mobility vehicles to ensure the less agile were not left behind.

Cutting down Torviscas and onto the front in Fañabe we left the traffic behind, most drivers were very supportive beeping horns and waving, a stern look from the police was enough to keep the more impatient in line. It wasn’t just walkers taking part, there were three motorbikes adorned in pink that joined us on the road stretches. As always there was a good selection of dogs that seemed happy to be dressed in pink while the humans decorated themselves with wigs, wings, scarves, glasses, and any manner of fancy dress, there was even a mock wedding party.

In past years Fañabe has been the finish line but this time it was a breathing point as we enjoyed the abundance of water, health drinks, cookies, and bananas provided by the generous sponsors. The weather was on its best behaviour with the odd cloudy interlude to cool down a little so after a brief respite we picked up the pace and headed along the sea path to La Caleta. Some of the beach brigade deserted their towels to get a closer look at the spectacle passing by and all along the route people were pitching money into the collection, my friends from the Armada Sur reaped 460 euros between their three buckets and many others were receiving donations to go with the sponsorships.

Our target was the Plaza San Sebastian, we were greeted by a live band, it was quite a musical day as we were serenaded by a jazz band earlier on the walk. The water and soft drinks were very welcome and a couple of huge paellas helped to reload walkers energy. Some people were bracing themselves to at least retrace part of the 6km walk back to the start point but our organizers had thought of that too and had a coach shuttle service to take the strain. It was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday and everyone who took part should take a bow, they will have to go some to beat it next year but I’m confident they will.


Candle Lights And Spot Lights In Los Cristianos

Bubbling up nicely, that’s the Tenerife run in to the festive season, and on Saturday night it was all sweetness and light in Los Cristianos. Inflatable Santa’s were swaying in the breeze, small versions of the Three Kings were scaling walls and window ledges, and music wafted through the air.

My first call was the church for the Scandinavian service of Santa Lucia, there’s a strong Scandinavian community in Los Cristianos as the tourism boom was started over 50 years ago by elderly and ill Scandinavians coming over for the healthy properties of our climate. Santa Lucia marks the longest night of the year in Scandinavia and the gleaming white costumes and candles of the choir make it a beautiful sight to see. The church was packed to overflowing and the singing was angelic, even to this little devil.

Feeling uplifted I moved onto the large marquee at the old beach side of the tunnel, it’s the venue for weekend events through thee festive season and this time it was health, beauty, and fashion. One half was stalls from Arona based shops and the other half was a stage and catwalk for models to strut their stuff, I was drawn like a moth to a flame. All the clothes on display were from business’s in Arona and the intention was to promote sales.

The young amateur models were very good, it must have been quite nerve wracking to be watched by a decent sized crowd but they showed poise and elegance. Unfortunately most of the audience were “mature” and the clothes were aimed at a younger market, I couldn’t really imagine most of the crowd popping down the supermarket or to church in the glamorous outfits being twirled. The music too was very much modern pop stuff – not really my cup of tea, but then I am an old fogey.

It was a good show, better publicity may have attracted a wider mix of audience, including those looking to spend a bit of money. So that left me with a bit of a thirst and the night still fairly young, a few bars on the way home and I was ready to catwalk up the hill in my designer trainers, jeans, and non football shirt – well someone must have designed them.

Recycling With A Kick For Christmas In Adeje

Here’s one they made earlier, or several in the Adeje Cultural Centre. The Cacharros Exhibition features the work of infant and primary school children from the Adeje municipality, recycling household rubbish to make some wondrously imaginative toy designs.

This was the first call on a sweep around Adeje town to see the festive lights and feel the build up to this years celebrations. It was a strange evening as I left Los Cristianos, a calima was blowing up a dust storm and the wind felt chilly, surely it would be even wilder up in Adeje, but it turned out to be very calm and a few degrees higher inland. The Cultural Centre is just off the lower end of Calle Grande, a bright modern building with plenty of activity and a very nice indoor café bar next to a large display area which was brimming with creative talent.

A high flying Santa was a good introduction, El Trineo de Papa Noel was made by Paula Cruz Gonzalez from CEIP Armenime, very jolly and laden with presents. Another airborne creation was Santa in a balloon, El Globo de Papa Noel came from Julia Aase of CEIP Fañabe. Another reason it grabbed my attention was the use of old beer bottle tops, I also noticed some beer cans twisted into other works, I’ve always thought that beer was educational.

Back at a lower level there was a smashing train that would have put Thomas and Gordon in the shade. The Polar Express was another product of CEIP Fañabe, this time from Michelle Bautista Camacho, Icould almost hear the jingle for a well known fizzy pop company. The last of my selection was a sturdy looking airplane with plenty of detail, a Boeing AGA 15605 to be precise, this one was made by Alejandro Garcia Armeanu of CEIP Adeje Casco. There were plenty more to admire from Pepa Pig to oil can Santas and a tree reflecting another year of financial crisis – good to see them aware of the challenges around them from a young age. Prizes had been awarded at various levels but I thought they were all brilliant and a credit to the schools in Adeje. The exhibition is on until 19 December.

Full of cheer and inspired I headed up Calle Grande admiring the decoration of the town hall before finding a busy Plaza de España. An exhibition of martial arts was taking place on the big stage so I lingered a while, Capoeira students were showing off their skills. This is a non contact cross between martial arts and dance originating from Africa and big in Brazil, I had seen the regular Saturday displays in Los Cristianos but was still impressed by their expert timing. Next up was a Kendo class, quite awe inspiring in their all black outfits and with the loud clashes of the staffs it made for a powerful demonstration. There’s a full programme of events in Adeje town over Christmas, New Year, and Reyes, you can find out more at

Saviour Vitolo Is Spot On For CD Tenerife Win

The crusty juggler tapping up motorists outside our pre match bar can’t even begin to know how CD Tenerife coach Alvaro Cervera feels. Under pressure and under siege he has been juggling injuries, suspensions, and poor players as his Christmas card list shrinks by the day. Midfield star Vitolo was his salvation this week topping a fine individual display with a penalty for a 1-0 home win over Racing Santander.

The January transfer window pit stop is just two more games away so it’s all about wringing out as many points as possible before then, three points and a clean sheet fitted the bill nicely. Suso was again the inspiring leader with penetrating runs down the right and enough enthusiasm to cover up for those with less to offer. Racing had plenty of the early play and clipped the bar with a looping shot, the home defence did their jobs well, Hugo Alvarez is growing in stature each game and the full backs Camara and Moyano put some recent slip ups behind them to lock down the flanks.

Aridane had his reprieve from last weeks sending off and cruised through the game in second gear as always. It should have been Uli Davila’s time to shine before Diego Ifran returns from suspension but he couldn’t light up a phone box. If you wanted to scrap the loan system you would use Uli as your main reason, he moves from club to club wallowing in his comfort zone, there is a rude awakening for him when Chelsea cut his golden apron strings. A shot across the Racing goal and a point blank save from Mario kept the half time score at 0-0.

The second half showed an improvement from Tenerife, Aridane put a ball through to Suso and his attack on goal was stopped abruptly by Saul for a penalty within 10 minutes of the restart. Vitolo was having a sparkling game in midfield and stroked the spot kick home for the lead before racing over to embrace Cervera on the bench. Aitor Sanz returned from injury for the ineffective Rivero, he has been sorely missed. Carlos didn’t have too much to do in the home goal but looked comfortable and made an important low diving save with Racing threatening.

Uli departed after 79 minutes as Maxi arrived, strangely he slotted in on the right with Suso, it took five awkward minutes for him to be moved to the left where he looks more at home. Suso nearly made it 2-0 but was foiled by a good stop from Mario but there was more to endure before the win was safe. Guarrotxena was a last minute sub and was picked out for a run on goal, a defender clearly fouled him to take the ball and prompt a Racing breakaway that ended with the ball in the Tenerife net. At least the ref spotted the clear offside and ruled it out to the relief of the 8,379 crowd.

Eating Up The Advent Season With Tastes Of Arona

Hold the sprouts, I’m not quite ready yet but I could be tempted by sweet treats – especially if they are free. Arona Ayuntamiento (council) has arranged a bulging programme of attractions for Christmas and the arrival of a large marquee in Los Cristianos got my taste buds dancing in anticipation.

Saturday evening was the Fiesta of the Chefs White Hat and when I arrived just after the 7pm opening there was a steady tide of visitors making their way into the marquee. It was split into two halves, on one side the wine was flowing, all produced from local bodegas, being a beer man I just had a small sip of red. On the other side the tables were groaning under the weight of 100 metres of hojaldre, a pastry delight filled with gofio and banana cream. The massive pastry had been cut into 2,000 small blocks and many were cruising past for a second time to take a slice.

The pastry was delicious and the filling oozed out of the sides as I bit into one, and then several others. The tasty spread was made and presented by ACYRE Canarias, the association of cooks and bakers, and I noticed top chef Juan Carlos Clemente playing a leading role. The last time I saw Juan Carlos he was up to his gills in tuna at a show cooking event in Los Abrigos, my tummy purred with joy at the memory of the fishy samples.

The evening outside was a little cool but we were all warm as toast under the bustling canvas. It was a nice mix of older locals and curious tourists, many of them were wearing the tribute tall white hats that were being handed out. Apart from stoking up festive cheer, the idea was to promote local food and drink and it did a good job of that. The next night it was the turn of Tastes of Arona, I was only able to make the last knockings of this after heading back from Santa Cruz. CD Tenerife had win so I was in a jolly Dorada fuelled mood and the sight of the delicately crafted cakes and biscuits added a glow to my night.

Most of the stalls were getting ready to pack away, I loitered by a large display of Trucos, small pasties containing spicy meat. Canarian music had been performed earlier on a small outside stage and several people told me how much they enjoyed it. The last of the trucos were being handed out to grateful visitors so I took a bundle for a late supper, so much better than the stale, rock hard pies that haunted my old football days back home.


Point Is Cold Comfort For CD Marino

Tackles full of thunder, and theatricals worthy of the panto season but no goals at Atletico Granadilla v CD Marino. Early sun gave way to blistering winds off the hills and my little legs were shivering, the South Tenerife derby should have warmed me up but both sides lacked the killer touch.

Granadilla are a pale shadow of the side that has just missed out on promotion in recent seasons but they are picking up under new coach Antonio Gonzalez and they dominated the opening ten minutes. Alberto was in commanding form between the Marino sticks as the tricky Carlos caused problems for the visiting defence. Slowly Marino turned the tide and Balduino had a strong penalty appeal for a foul by Kevin after 15 minutes.

The ref was a strange one, as the teams emerged from the pitch side changing rooms he inspected them like an over zealous school sports teacher, I thought he was going to check their homework at one stage.
Marino tried to break with Sesma on the left and Pibe powering through the middle but found giant defender Kevin always ready with a crunching intervention, he reminded me of Jack Charlton complete with some of his more dubious tricks. Alberto was strong and punched clear when Granadilla floated the ball in, the ball spent far too long of this game hoofed up into the sky by both sides, the cattle grazing on the hillside must have been very distracted. The blues best chance came when Sesma beat his marker and slipped the ball into the Granadilla box but there was no attacker to meet it.

There was no easy welcome back to the pitch after the break as Kevin flattened Nestor with a slam that echoed in the cold air. Marino couldn’t create enough chances to trouble the home side and looked more and more content with a draw as the game went on. Granadilla wasted a clear sight of goal with a wide effort and Alberto easily covered a weak prod from Carlos. Marino added their own Kevin to the mix in place of Nestor, he had some initial success on the right as a flurry of yellow cards were branded at both teams.

A double sub saw Marino bring on Estefan and Mendy although the effect was minimal. The ref was having a bad day and sent Marino physio Angel Marrero off for for his helpful comments. The game was going nowhere, Sesma could have separated the teams with a header but it flashed high over the bar. Pibe surged through into a strong position but his finish let him down and there was more work for Alberto as he denied Granadilla with a low block. A draw should keep Marino top of their section but the pack are closing in and thus should have been a three pointer.