Old Bonhomme’s Spanish teacher, Antón Martín, not only instructs students on how to speak a second language, but he also coaches an area youth soccer team. The Athletic Club Bilbao magazine, a Spanish publication, featured Antón’s team in a recent edition. The Athletic Club Bilbao is a first division soccer team in northern Spain (the Basque Country region), and Antón said the magazine wanted to do a history on him and his team because he is originally from that area and is a big fan of the Athletic Bilbao (so much so that he named his team after the the club).
Antón has been coaching teams in St. Louis for 20 straight years. He’s coached all age groups from 4- 17 years and at all different levels, from recreational soccer to select soccer to high school soccer. This is his fifth year coaching this team. Among the players on the team are four former Old Bonhomme students, Adam Devine, Ronak Nagarajan, Ellory Steinbach and Samuel M’Pemba, all sixth grade students at Ladue Middle School this year. The team’s players are in the sixth and seventh grades, between 11 and 12 years old. This team is a select soccer team and plays for the Real St. Louis Soccer Club, which is a select club here in St. Louis.
Antón said that he hopes for his players to learn how to work as a team, gain a sense of responsibility, learn from their mistakes and of course, for them to become great soccer players.
This is Antón’s twelfth year at Old Bonhomme.
A translation of the article’s text is below:
The team led by Antón Martín belongs to the Real St. Louis club, and they play their matches at the Select level. “Fútbol (soccer) is organized in a different way; when children are under 15 years old, they can play on three levels: the lower level is called ‘recreational soccer’; the second is ‘recreational plus’; and the third is ‘select soccer’, in which players must pass tests to play, train two or three times a week and also play in a high-level league. They also travel several times a year to play tournaments,” Martín said.
Currently, the ‘double’ Athletic Club (*a play on the fact that this club is named after the Spanish Athletic Club Bilbao) play their matches in the fútbol mode 8, “but the next year we will play fútbol 11. Last year, we won two tournaments, one in Memphis. We’ve only had one bad season; now we are second and have two rival St. Louis teams: Lou Fusz and SLSG,” Martín said.
His love for the Athletic Club led him to remember when our team said to train in St. Louis: “Most coaches named his team with his name, but mine is ‘Athletic Club Bilbao’. On the one hand, it helped to feel close to my colors, and secondly, it was a way he was known in this area by the Athletic Club,” Martín said.
Real St. Louis Athletic Club Bilbao hold their matches on the premises of the SLYSA League (Saint Louis Youth Soccer Association) and, before rolling the ball, Martín’s players make a circle, put their hands together and shout: “One, two, three, Bilbao!” “Many people ask us where the team’s name came from, and I love to tell them a little about the tradition and history of the Athletic, its philosophy… they say it is impossible for them to play as First Basque players. I say that only there are three teams that have never fallen a second, including the Athletic,” Martín said.
Every Tuesday before training, Martín updates his players on the Athletic Club’s matches, pointing out players featured and of course, scorers. “So everyone knows Aduriz, Williams, Susaeta, et cetera … and not just because they are some of the players, but they are appearing in video games.”