Interview with Daniel Castañón, coach of the Spain women’s national flag football team.
Sport in Spain is progressively getting back to its activity, adapting to the new circumstances imposed by the pandemic. At Cambrils Park Sport Village and Futbol Salou we have welcomed, following all hygiene and safety measures against COVID-19, the meeting Spain women’s and men’s national flag football team.
Flag Football: the friendliest version of American football
Flag football is a version of American football played, almost, without physical contact. In flag football tackling (downs) does not exist, instead flags are attached to the waist and they must be pulled from the opposing team. It is still a minority sport in Spain and Europe although it is growing as it becomes known.
If you want to learn more about it, we recommend you read the article: “What is and how to play flag football”
Daniel Castañón, Asturian and ex-American football player, has been leading the Spain women’s national Flag Football team since the 2014 World Cup. Six years of constant work, that last September 1, 2019 made history as Spanish players won, for the first time, the European Flag Football Championship played in Jerusalem winning against Great Britain (28-14) in the final.
Due to the stoppage caused by the pandemic in 2020, the women’s national Flag Football team is still the current European Champion.
An unexpected victory
Spain didn’t expect to win the championship, nor did Great Britain, a team that has shown great progress in a short time. According to the coach of the Spain national team, Daniel Castañón:
“Historically Britain was stronger in the “tackle” version, but they started working on the flag football project and have grown a lot. Besides, given that they have tradition in rugby, many players shifted from rugby to American football, and from American football to flag football, bringing great athletes to the flag modality. They were also the great surprise of the championship. It was a very nice game and a great final.”
A great surprise for both national teams, Spain and Britain, that broke, against all odds, a streak of 4 consecutive years of victories of the Austria national team: “Our initial goal was no not to be European champions, but to work on attainable short-term goals. In this case, to be in the play off and, from there, to get ready for each opponent, game by game. Winning the championship wasn’t the goal but the consequence of all the work we did”.
And adds: “We had never been in a final and being realistic, we didn’t have any reason to think that we could win. What we did know was that we had a good team that could win, if we did things right. The team improved during the tournament.”
The 2021 World Cup is played in Spain
The next goal of the Spain national team is to get ready for the 2021 Flag World Championship that will be played next October in Palma de Mallorca.
Castañón is sure: “A world Cup is a big deal, because the strongest teams in the world will be there: United States, Mexico, Canada and Panama. However, this year the top World Cup teams will automatically qualify for the World Games, which are the Olympic Games of the non-Olympic sports. This is a very important motivating factor for our players, to be able to play an International tournament in the United States.”
Get ready for a World Cup during a Pandemic
Coronavirus has affected all sports. But, little by tittle, athletes are returning, being cautious, to national and international competitions. Still, getting ready for World Cup in this context is a challenge that the Spain national team takes without drama:
“We are adapting. We all have to adapt. All players had undergone PCR tests upon their arrival to the training camp, we wear masks when we are not on the field and we follow cleaning and disinfection measures. Players are mentally prepared that there are things that we can’t do and, for now, we are doing it very well.”
The shape of Flag Football
According to Daniel Castañón, “Flag football it is a sport that is growing in Spain and in the world. Even the International Federation is surprised by the number of teams that have shown their interest in taking part in the 2021 World Cup, more than 30 teams. In the United States, the “Mecca” of flag football, this season scholarships for women’s flag football have been given for the first time. Another door that is opened to our players who can dream of going to the United States. Until 6 years ago, Spain didn’t take part in any international championship as a national team, and in 6 years we have become the European Champions. This team has much merit.”
Until 6 years ago, Spain didn’t take part in any international championship as a national team, and in 6 years we have become the European Champions. This team has much merit.
The facilities of Cambrils Park Sport Village and Futbol Salou have received the Safe Tourism Certified seal and the ISO 9001/14001/50001 that guarantee compliance with hygiene and safety protocols. In uncertain times, choosing the best facilities is very important:
“Some players had already been here last year playing the Champions Bowl, and, the truth is that the facilities are fantastic. The pitches are great, we have everything we need and the food is really good. Without a doubt, it is one of the best training camps we have made. It has been a great success to come to Cambrils.”
Thank you, team and good luck!
Photos: Lola Morales