Isabelle Garcia Blanco and Sonia Herrero Calvo, both winners of the 2012 Network Award, answer a few questions about the importance of this award. Student at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid, partner of CIES and the Real Federación Española de Fútbol, they made a remarkable project on tools to strengthen ties between the Spanish professional football clubs and their supporters.
How did you react when you received this award? And how did your family? And your friends?
Isabel and Sonia: In an explosion of joy ... We read the outline of the other projects which we thought were all very interesting. We worked very hard, not knowing if it would be enough to win an international award ... But we did it! It was a great and a pleasant surprise! Our families and friends were all very happy ... They had followed our adventures in recent months and it was really amazing to see how proud they were to see us win the Prize.
What was the media impact of this price?
Isabel and Sonia: The media impact was quite large, which is good news ... The press and some radio stations in Spain showed great interest in the project and have contacted us. Thus we have been mentioned in the local press (Heraldo de Soria, Diario de Soria, El Mirón) and aired on some local radio stations (COPE Soria, SER Soria ...). In addition, the price also met some resonance at the national level through the Spanish press agency (EFE), the trade press in the field of sport (AS), the web pages dedicated to sports marketing (OnManagingSport) and official magazine of the RFEF and the football club CD Numancia. We also received congratulations from many people who helped us achieve our project or have known through the media, including clubs and teachers ...
What is the meaning of this price to you?
Isabel and Sonia: The Award is a recognition for all our work, our efforts and the outcome of a project that we developed with passion for one year. But it is also the result of travel, and rewarding experiences of a great friendship between us. We got to know FIFA and future sports managers (the FIFA Master students). This is an incredible experience, a unique opportunity. Actually, this is something we will never forget. However, financial assistance would also be useful for those wishing to implement their project.
How and why did you choose the topic of your work?
Sonia: I support a football club that is not Real Madrid or FC Barcelona ... This is perhaps the reason why I noticed that the Spanish media communicate mainly on these two great clubs ... It seems that the other teams do not "exist"... Furthermore, I observed that clubs do not always pay much attention to their fans. I wanted to know if it was not just a miss judgment from my side. That is why I contacted Isabel to study the relationship "club-supporter ' together, and the ways to improve it.
Isabel: Our passion for football and marketing has guided our choice. When Sonia asked me to work with her on the relationship between fans and football clubs, I did not think twice! It was a way for me to learn about Spanish football and its problems.
How do you develop your project?
Sonia: The step "project" is completed. I am now studying what would be the best way to develop it. Our work is indeed the reality. On one side the supporters asking for help and hoping to be paied more attention. On the other clubs which are willing to change, to improve their relationship with their fans. I now work for acting "active" in that direction and meet the demands and needs of these two key players in football.
Isabel: Yes, totally agree with Sonia. From my side, I wish to gain experience in the sports world, create more contacts and "bank" to use perhaps the adventure in a few months in Spain or abroad.
What do you think about the FIFA / CIES International University Network?
Isabel and Sonia: It's a gold mine. It gives us the unique opportunity to be in close contact with sports professionals in many countries. And thanks to the recent improvement of the web page of CIES and the presence of it in social networks, the contact is more direct, more personal. What good news! The Network is a unique instrument for sharing experiences with people around the world. We probably would not have built such a network without having followed the FIFA / CIES Programme.
Do you still communicate with students of the FIFA / CIES Programme?
Isabel and Sonia: Yes, of course. We made many friends and had also the opportunity to meet students of Madrid second promotion and those of the FIFA Master. We have stayed in touch with everyone. Thanks to the directory available on the CIES website, we were able to contact and talk on skype with the Argentinian group winner of the winning CIES / FIFA 2011 Award. We hope we never lose touch with all these friends of the Network.
And the visit to Switzerland? What were the highlights?
Isabel and Sonia: The visit to Switzerland was also an incredible experience. We were so well received! Best points: the people we have known: the friendliness of Vincent, the help of Pierre, the enthusiasm of the FIFA Master students, sharing moments with those of Palestine, the discovery of their culture, the meeting with Mr. Blatter ... All these people, all these moments have made this trip an unforgettable experience!
Were you able to check all the clichés about the country?
Isabel and Sonia: Not a lot of shots ... But we enjoyed Swiss chocolate. A delicious stereotype! We bought some for our families, friends but also to everyone who had helped us in our project. Switzerland is a beautiful country ... We loved Morat and the Creux du Van, wonderful! We hope to return one day for its beautiful landscapes and chocolate, of course!