Sports in Spain

You may think of sports in Spain as just soccer and tennis, but they are so much more. And I can see why: the sport infrastructure in the Costa del Sol is amazing!!! They have these structures called Patronato or Polideportivos that are big gymnasiums offering a wide variety of sports activities for all ages. Badminton, Zumba, Yoga, Ice skating and surfing are just some. They even offer physiotherapy and activities for pregnant ladies (hello Mamas to be!) at affordable prices.

Above: the Patronato of Torremolinos

But it all goes well beyond the patronatos. If the family wants, kids can join the local team of the sports they practice; there is a monthly fee for the parents, that allows the kid to participate in competitions that happen very often, almost weekly, on different nearby towns. The winners or well positioned kids in such competitions get to be upgraded to more professional base-teams, and keeping scoring high can turn into a career in sports. I know parents that are following this path, and they generally seem a bit overwhelmed by the frequent weekend trips to compete. Athlete’s (parent) life is tough!

I’ll tell you about the sport infrastructure of Benalmádena, because it is what I know best. I believe everywhere in Spain to be similar, because despite me finding it amazing, I never heard of the locals being particularly proud of these sport facilities.

In Benalmadena there are several places, each offering a different set of activities, that you can check on the page of sports of the Ayuntamiento. The page itself is a bit incomplete (see? It is like they don’t think of it as a big deal) but can give a general idea of the many facilities available. As far as I know, these are them:

Polideportivo municipal

Benalmádena has two of these structures, also known as “Patronato”. They offer a paid sport card that residents can buy and get discounts on any activity they choose, on any facility. It is a good deal, and the card is valid for a year. The polideportivo themselves offer collective sports, such as football / soccer, volleyball and basketball, besides dance classes and athletism. They seem to be the leading or controlling structure of sports in each city.

Club Náutico Marítimo de Benalmádena

Located in the beautiful Marina of Benalmádena, is the facility responsible for water sports, such as surf, windsurf, sailing and rowing.

Above, on the left, the Club Náutico, also known as Escuela Náutica Municipal de Benalmádena.

Club Municipal de Raqueta and Tennis factory

These two facilities offer classes of tennis and paddle. They have several tennis courts, and you can see groups of all ages practicing side by side.

Benalmádena Golf

Very visible in the city map, this large installation offers golf classes for small groups separated by ages. They are proud about their Pitch & Putt, and Benalmádena is proud about its golf facilities above all other sports.

Above: View from Benalmádena Golf. Picture by Manoel Jabonero on Google Maps.

Campo de deportes

There are two large grass fields two play hockey or football / soccer in the city that people can reserve for themselves. They have changing rooms and coffee shops as well.

Palacio de deportes

The Sports Palace, former Club de Hielo (Ice club) offers swimming, roller, yoga, dance and gymnastics. This is the facility I know best and I can vouch for it: modern, clean, organized, amazing.

Despite being public, the Palacio de Deportes is operated by a private company. The one that operated it previously bankrupted during the Covid pandemic, unfortunately, so the Palacio stayed close for about a year. It has reopened in June 2022, but without the ice rink, that was too expensive to keep. The former ice rink is currently a (non-ice) roller skate rink – and thus the name change. But there are talkings that the ice rink will reopen.

The schools of the area make great use of these places, organizing trips (some even weekly) to take the kids to practice in the kind of infrastructure a school could not afford on its own. Kiddo loves sports day and mentioning the Patronato always brought a smile to his face while he was in a small private school without space to run; now, in the public school, he does physical education in the school itself, because there is a lot of space, and we go swimming twice a week (on our own, not school related). Every now and then, the school does a field trip to one of the facilities, and Kiddo awaits them with anticipation.

I already loved Benalmádena before, but I am even more impressed with the effort the city puts in promoting a healthy lifestyle. It may come out as if the facilities are only oriented to kids, but let me emphasize this: all the courses I’ve seen so far are offered both for adults and for kids, and the venues offer both monthly access (courses) or pay-per-visit. Have you thought about learning how to surf after moving to Spain? You can.

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