The Community of Madrid uses sport to reinsert minors and young offenders

British journalist, John Carlin, explained very well in his book “The human factor”, the power of sport to build bridges between people, apparently impossible to rebuild. And Clint Eastwood, in his film “Invictus”, based on Carlin’s book, brought that conviction to the big screen in one of the great films in cinema history.

It tells the story of the South African president, Nelson Mandela, which in order to unite a nation deeply divided between blacks and whites, with a history of Apartheit, of racism, behind its back, does not hesitate to support the national rugby team, made up mainly of whites, to achieve that reconciliation. He himself had spent 27 years in prison for opposing the racist government. And not only that, but he also put on the green “Springbots” t-shirt and a hat.

It was, to give us an idea, as if Philip Gonzalez he would have put on the Falange shirt, if it had been the same as the national team. Mandela understood that sport was the way to achieve it. An “epiphany”, or “eureka” moment that he discovered in 1992, when he attended the Barcelona Olympics.

In the end, the “Springbots” won the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

They beat the mighty New Zealand rugby team. At the Ellis Stadium in Johannesburg, the same stadium where Spain won its 2011 Soccer World Cup, beating the Netherlands in the final.

Morgan Freeman in the role of the South African president, Nelson Mandela, greeting Matt Damon, who played the role of the captain of the “Springbots”, the South African national rugby team, François Pienaar, in the film “Invictus”, by Clint Eastwood , recounting how Mandela used rugby to unite a deeply divided nation.


The Community of Madrid uses the same resource that Mandela used in South Africa: sport as a basic piece for the reintegration into society of those who are serving judicial measures in the centers of the Regional Agency for the Reeducation and Reintegration of Minor Offenders (ARRMI).

The impact of this support resource has demonstrated –once again– its great effectiveness. Because sport unites.

so assured Henry LopezMinister of the Presidency, Justice and Interior of the Community of Madrid (CAM), during his visit yesterday to the Teresa de Calcutta complex of the ARRMI, located in the town of Brea de Tajo, southeast of the territory of the Community.

There he participated in the presentation of the book “My Once de Oro”, written by the coach Antonio Fernandez Marchanresponsible for the “Much more than football” program that has been taking place in this venue since 2012. Fernández Marchan has been a scout and analyst for the Royal Spanish Football Federation, technical director of Sevilla FC and Valencia CF, as well as director of football from clubs like Xerez CD and Málaga CF.

“The practice of sports is always the best school of values ​​and the greatest expression of self-improvement,” said López, a great football fan – his team this year has won the European Cup and the League. And a convinced that sport, whatever it is, is a bridge of communication between human beings, that unites and helps. “It’s like a second language.”

The counselor thanked Fernández Marchán for the “enormous social sensitivity” that he has displayed in “an essential work, since it gives visibility to the professional intervention that is carried out with minors and young offenders.”

López recalled that the success stories with the population served by the ARRMI exceed 90%. For this, he praised the model, “of which we are proud. Because it is a national and international reference. They ask us for information from other territories, even in governments of neighboring countries, such as Portugal”, he highlighted.

López, in a conversation with Confilegal afterwards, also recalled the film “Invictus” and the importance of sport, and the values ​​it entails, in our lives.

“Mandela discovered this truth in Spain, at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. He had been released in 1990 after spending more than twenty years in prison. In 1994 he became the first black president of South Africa. He sought reconciliation. And he found that sport was the bridge he was looking for; what he saw clearly in Spain. Clint Eastwood’s film, ‘Invictus’, recounts very well what victory in the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup meant: unity in a divided town, ”said the counselor.

«It was the same feeling that we had when we won ours, the soccer one, in 2010. A victory, in which Fernández Merchán had a part because he was part of the Federation’s technical team in that historic victory».

He added: “Sport is a powerful tool that helps instill values ​​in young people. Antonio Fernández Merchán’s work on the program ‘Much more than football’ demonstrates this. We cannot be more satisfied with the results obtained. It is the way”.

Enrique López, in the center, with Antonio Fernández Marchán, on the left, and Diego López del Hierro, managing director of the Regional Agency for the Reeducation and Reinsertion of Minor Offenders. Photo: CAM.

In “My Eleven de Oro” (Editorial Círculo Rojo), its author makes available to readers a selection of stories among the more than 300 inmates who have participated in “Much more than football” during the last decade.

All this, always respecting the anonymity of adolescents and valuing the work of ARRMI workers.

Fernández Marchán truffles each chapter with a series of personal reflections. Each of them is sponsored by public figures who have had the opportunity to learn about this initiative first-hand and participate in some of the sessions.

Among them are Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves, David Demaria, Canco Rodriguez either andrea hard.

Antonio Fernández Marchán, Enrique López and Diego López del Hierro during the presentation, which took place on the center’s soccer field. Photo: CAM.


After the parenthesis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community of Madrid is gradually recovering some of the sports activities that are part of the ARRMI reintegration and reeducation programs and that were interrupted by the health crisis.

Thus, the basketball school taught at the Teresa de Calcutta Center in collaboration with the Real Madrid Foundation has been resumed and work is being done to do the same with other disciplines.

Among the latter, football 7 stands out – the Inter-Center Tournament and the Spring Tournament in collaboration with the Fundación Club Atlético de Madrid–; the Teresa de Calcutta tennis school, in collaboration with the Madrid Foundation for Sport and the Madrid Tennis Foundation; the Cross Valdelatas, a cross-country race; the ARRMI Olympic Games; and the Intercenter chess tournaments.

Currently, 1,625 young and minor offenders are complying with judicial measures –278 in internment and the rest in the non-custodial sphere made up of open media measures and extrajudicial reparations– thanks to the attention of the Community of Madrid.

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