Cardassar is almost devastated and pursues glory against Atletico

“You are wondering ‘now what?’ You feel so powerless. You can’t even think of fixing it. It’s too big. “

Jaume Soler is 30 years old. He was 27 years old when he became president of his home club, CE Cardassar, which now operates in Spain’s non-professional, regionalized Tercera division. His team played a dream game in the Copa del Rey and received Atletico Madrid in the first round on Wednesday – – Stream LIVE in the US at 12:50 p.m. ET, ESPN + But Jaume is not yet talking about the biggest game in the club’s history.

He talks about the night they lost everything.

“We took over in June,” said Soler. “We were responsible for three months when the disaster happened.”

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On the evening of October 9, 2018, heavy rain fell on Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, a quiet town with around 4,000 inhabitants, many of whom live from tourism on the nearby coast of Mallorca. The waters of the Begura de Salma – a stream rather than a river that flows from the hills above, past the city to the coast below – began to rise and before government evacuation warnings could be issued, a flash flood of water occurred Three meters high swept through the city. A total of 13 people died and more than 200 were left homeless.

After the flood, a university study found that a water flow of 442 cubic meters per second had built up in just 15 minutes. This is the same as Spain’s longest river, the Ebro, but on an area 1000 times smaller.

“There had been floods before [in the area]My parents and grandparents had told me about it, but not on this scale, “said midfielder Ivan Antich, who joined ESPN at the age of five.” Not with so much force, which does so much damage. “

“I’m 22 and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said defender Sergi Febrer, another local resident. “I had never heard people talk about it. You would write a book about it.”

Javi Lopez was born in Valencia but has played for clubs in the Sant Llorenc area for the past three years. “When I walked the streets it was like a horror movie,” he told ESPN. “There were no lights. Lots of cops. Mud everywhere. I told my family that it was [Brad Pitt movie] Anger. So much mud. Everything was destroyed. “

Cardassar’s compact Es Moleter site is on the outskirts of town, next to the Begura de Salma creek and directly across from where the flood came into town. However, before the thoughts of the players and staff turned to the condition of the club, there were more immediate concerns: the well-being of family and friends.

“I’ve played for[local[local[lokal[localTercera Society]So Manacor, 10 minutes away by car, “said Lopez.” We had training that day. There was a boy who played with us and lived in Sant Llorenc. Five minutes earlier he asked me to have a coffee. We started getting videos and phone calls about what was happening. And then he didn’t pick up the phone. It was really worrying. “

The cellular network was down, making it impossible to contact anyone. It was also impossible to get into town.

“I remember it perfectly,” Antich told ESPN. “I came back from work, it was getting dark. When I drove into town, I almost got stuck in the water, but I managed to get past and stopped in an area that wasn’t affected by the flooding.

“Around 11 p.m. the emergency services let us in. I went to my parents’ house to see if they were okay, and then I went to the neighbors. There were 20 or 30 cars piled on top of each other. Everything was covered in mud. The people cried. I get emotional just talking about it. “

And then there was Cardassar’s home, Es Moleter. Or rather, there weren’t any. It was gone.

“The next day we took a look at how the playing field was,” says Antich. “And there was no soccer field there.”

Looking at the pictures will give you an idea of ​​the extent of the damage. The sheer force of the flood had ripped the artificial surface out of the ground. It lay in a twisted heap at one end of the field like a rug that had been hastily picked up and thrown off. The grandstand was still upright, but overlooked a sea of ​​mud.

The club’s losses went beyond the field of play. “We had lockers in the changing rooms where we kept our boots and the like. Everything was taken from the water,” said Antich. “We didn’t have a single shoe left.”

“We lost everything. Everything,” said Soler. “Even the washing machines that were full of equipment went away. We didn’t have kits, imagine. We didn’t have anything. And then there was the damage to the pitch. We had to replace everything. The surface, the sprinklers, the walls, the Changing rooms, the bathrooms, the bar, the sanitary facilities, the electricity, the solar panels – everything. Everything. “

In the days and weeks that followed, the city began to slowly rebuild. “Most of all, I helped my family,” said Febrer. “My cousins’ house was affected. I spent most of the time there. I also went to the football field when I could, but most of the time I was with my cousins. Family came first. “

“We were in shock the first night and the next day,” added Antich. “We didn’t know how to react. But then people started helping their neighbors. That’s the image that stuck with me, people with their own problems offering a hand wherever it is needed. The first thing in the morning we have hand-given cleaning products, brooms, gloves, boots, and when we are done we start cleaning. “

It was not clear whether the football club – as well as a community institution and hub for the city’s children as well as a humble team at the foot of the Spanish football pyramid – could be saved.

“You are wondering what to do if you should continue,” said Soler. “We weren’t obliged. The town hall told us not to worry, they would look for solutions. The easiest thing would have been to leave it.”

But help arrived. The Mallorca-born Rafa Nadal, who was born in nearby Manacor and who helped with the clean-up work, donated one million euros for the reconstruction of sports facilities in the region. A friendly match was arranged between a Balearic XI and the largest team on the island, Real Mallorca. The proceeds from ticket sales went to Cardassar. Osasuna donated a set of their away kits, which were yellow like Cardassar’s home stripes, and soccer balls.

On January 5, 2019, just three months later, the stadium was operational again.

Your story of tragedy, unity, and recovery is noteworthy enough, but what has happened since then in this new place might fit in exactly. “It’s not that we lost all of our games after the flood. It was just the opposite,” said Febrer. “We all know each other, most of us come from the city. We have grown closer.”

When the flood happened, morale was bad. Football was an escape valve every Sunday to see the first team. “

In 2018-19 Cardassar was relegated in Primera Regional – the fifth division of Spanish football – in the previous year. Despite the difficulties caused by the floods, they finished the season in third place and were promoted to the Preferente. The 2019-20 season was interrupted again, this time due to the coronavirus pandemic. When football was abandoned in the lower division in Spain, Cardassar was at the top of the table 14 points ahead of nearest rivals and was named champions. That gave them the chance to compete against the champions of the neighboring islands of Menorca and Ibiza, where they won the qualifying rounds of the Copa del Rey.

After an exciting penalty shoot-out against CF Epila from Zaragoza on November 11th, they were able to secure a place in the first round. Under a new cup format aimed at increasing the drama and the chances of big surprises and games between David and Goliath, it meant Cardassar was a top notch opponent. In a one-time game. At home.

“I worked in football on this island for many years,” coach Miquel Angel Tomas, who took over in 2019, told ESPN. “You have a lot of good times. Others not so much. There are a lot of sacrifices. The day you manage to beat Epila, which allows you to play against a First Division team, that’s a feeling of luck. Me always will. ” Do you remember that day. You want everyone to experience something like this once in their life. “

Then came the Copa del Rey draw.

“It was a Monday,” said Sergi Febrer. “Those of us who didn’t have to work got together in a bar in the town square. The draw started and the big names we all wanted like Atletico Madrid and Sevilla didn’t come out. I think we were the penultimate name in the draw. They knew we were going to get someone good, but Atleti was the best. Everyone was on their feet and screaming. I’m a Barça fan, but from the teams we could have had, the one who What upset me the most was Atleti. “

“It was an amazing feeling,” said Javi Lopez. “There are no words. We jumped around and screamed.”

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How do you prepare for a game against the best team in Spain?

“People say, ‘It’s Atletico Madrid, what are you going to do?'” Lopez laughed. “And I say ‘Have a good time, what else should I do?’ I will probably never be able to play it again. “

Antich, who has been on Cardassar’s first team in a decade at age 30, will miss the game after a recent operation. “And I’m a Real Madrid fan!” he says. “It would have been an additional motivation. But I was only operated on for appendicitis. Football is like that – sometimes injuries occur when you least want it.”

It will be a tense evening at Tomas’s household as the coach’s father is a lifelong Atletico supporter. “You are a fan and your son is a coach in lower division football. One day you will have the opportunity to see the team of your life against the team your son coaches,” he told ESPN. “The best thing for me would have been to train Atleti, but that won’t happen!”

“At least he did … and I will be able to tell my grandchildren that one day their grandfather faced a great coach like Diego Simeone.”

There were some initial doubts about Es Moleter’s ability to host a game like this, but Spanish Football Association inspectors confirmed that saving days is the job. Due to coronavirus restrictions, 305 people can participate and the club has decided that 150 of them are the teenagers who play for its youth teams while 100 of the 600 are loyal members of the club Socios is chosen at random. Tennis star Nadal was also invited as a guest of honor given his vital donations.

“The only downside is that a lot of people are unable to participate,” Club President Soler told ESPN. “It’s a special day. We have the same group of players as we did two years ago. Many of them saw what happened.

“Two promotions in a row, getting to the Copa del Rey, being promoted to the third division … in a sporting sense things couldn’t have gone better. We have 96 years of history and our best was the year after the flood.”

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