It has only been a couple of weeks since we returned from our trip, and we’re already back at it with trainings and preseason games. It is still settling in that we were in Spain playing against professional club teams and touring major La Liga Stadiums. It’s hard to believe how much we packed into 11 days:

We played seven games in 11 days—most of them against professional clubs. One of the games was against Sevilla FC’s C team, a division 1 La Liga team. Although we lost 5-2, the opportunity of playing at their training field after the first team had just finished will forever remain in our memories. We left Spain with a record of 2-3-2.

On top of the games, we managed to tour three breathtaking La Liga stadiums and visit a fourth, which included FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, Real Madrid FC’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Real Betis’ stadium and Sevilla FC’s stadium.

Around day seven, we scored some unbelievable tickets to FC Barcelona’s home game against Chapecoense, a Serie A team from Brazil that suffered a team tragedy when a plane that the team was on went down in November 2016. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to see one of three survivors start on the pitch for kick-off. As fútbol players, it was a heartwarming experience we’ll hold dear to our hearts forever.

Between all of these events, we experienced Spain. We tasted the food, and savored traditional meals. We walked around wondering why Sevilla turned into a ghost town in the middle of the day, until we realized it was siesta time. We walked around salivating with a cup of gelato in our hands, and awed at the Spanish women passing by. We rested our bodies in the Spanish sands, and snorkeled in the Mediterranean Sea. We played footy on the beaches with Felipe’s 10-year-old son, Diego, and kicked sand into each other’s eyes trying to save the ball from dropping to the ground. We took a catamaran out to sea, and dove off the boat once we anchored. And after a couple of jumps each, we frantically climbed aboard after a jellyfish sighting—none of us felt like getting stung.

In spite of so much going on, we still got to know some of the players’ parents better, while exchanging stories with Chico State soccer alumni. It was a once in a lifetime trip that we will keep in our hearts and use to drive us through this 2017 season.

See you at University Soccer Stadium.

– Dylan Wakefield, journalism

This is the final installation of a five-part series chronicling the Chico State men’s soccer team’s trip to Spain before the preseason. Earlier stories include Spain and Fútbol, Spain Awaits, Wildcats Visit Hallowed Grounds of European Soccer, and xxx