The woman driving LaLiga growth strategy in East Africa – Sports Africa

It is said that good things come to those who wait.

Beatriz Garcia wasn’t really waiting having left Spain and moved to Kenya for other engagements.

Then the stars aligned in her favour and she received a call in September 2020 that the LaLiga job she sought in 2016 was hers.

And what’s more? She would be working from Kenya, a country she now calls second home.

For a girl from Oviedo in northern Spain who grew up as a football fan, this was a dream come true.

Now as one of the 44 LaLiga Delegates around the world, it was time to engage her passion to the max.

As someone who has been following Beatriz’s work, when an opportunity to talk to her about her passion arose, I jumped at it.

It’s late November and the morning skies are pregnant with rain when I enter ArtCaffe on Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi, a few minutes shy of our appointed time.

Beatriz is seated in one of the humongous tables lining one wall of the expansive restaurant.

In keeping with the times we do a fist pump as I take the seat opposite her. A waiter delivers Beatriz a concoction that I can’t quite tell as he takes my order.

The first thing that I notice about Beatriz is her effusive charm and a beauty that radiates both within and without.

Any jitters I may have been harbouring quickly melt away with the first greeting.

Ever the gracious host, the soft spoken lady sets you at ease before she starts unpacking everything LaLiga, reeling off stats after stats on what she considers to be the world’s greatest football league.

 After all, as LaLiga Delegate for Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia, it is her job to fly the league’s flag high.

Her job, she says,  is to take LaLiga to the grassroots, to connect communities with the league and make the brand identifiable in the farthest reaches of East Africa.

In a nutshell, Beatriz’s mission is to make LaLiga the second most followed league in the four countries. 

Why not the most followed? I ask. The reason is simple as it is inspiring.

Their desire is to see football grow in the countries they operate in, especially in Africa. As such the delegates are not after global domination. They can be likened to deft undercover operatives gathering market intelligence and providing context on how LaLiga is followed across the world to their bosses in Madrid.

“As much as I am here to help the LaLiga fanbase expand, our other key function is to support the growth of football in the countries we operate in. It is our duty to see that the standards of the local leagues improve for the benefit of both the players and the fans. Football is a community affair and all the top clubs in the world have their roots in the places they were formed in,” explains Beatriz.

“It would, therefore, be remiss of us not to help in the development of the local game. At LaLiga we believe a  player from Dagoretti in Nairobi can rise to be a star at Real Madrid or Barcelona because he received the right support at an early age.

“We believe in the power of football to change lives. That is why most of our programmes involve working with young people across East Africa.”

 Their other part of the job developing digital strategy, sometimes posting in local languages on social media.

 If the job sounds fun, it is because it is.

 So far Beatriz has conducted 44 activations in Kenya, organizing coaching workshops in informal communities in Nairobi,  planned a football tournament here and there and even hosted a watch party.

But more is yet to come. LaLiga have more activities lined up in 2022 and beyond as they seek to deepen the interaction between one of the world’s best leagues and the East African people.

As I prepare to prepare to close what has been an illuminating interview, I have but one more question left.

Back to LaLiga, I shoot, what has been the impact of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit on the league?

“Of course it is sad to see them go. They have been great ambassadors of the league but everything has a cycle. LaLiga is nevertheless still home to top footballing talent and we have some of the top prospects on the roster at the moment. From Barcelona’s Pedri and Ansu Fati to Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr, among others, the future is bright,” answers Beatriz.

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