Sports in Spain

Hello everyone,

The Olympic Games are now just a few days away and we would like to talk about sports.

What sports are the most popular and/or unusual in Spain?

Are sports facilities easily accessible there? Where and how can one find sports clubs in the region?

Are there sports events regularly held in the country?

And you? What is your favourite sport? Which one(s) do you practice in Spain?

Thank you in advance,


My favorite city to work out is Valencia. There are lots of options to cheer on and practice sports here. The weather helps as well ;-)

The most popular sports here are soccer/football, basketball, golf and the controversial bull fighting. In Jardines del Turia throughout the city there are always people running, exercising in the outdoor gyms and playing team sports. Water sports you will see a lot as well with the big coastline.

Finding a sport club is easy, just ask around at expat hangouts and they will guide you to the best places. They are easy accessible and welcoming to everybody. The company I work for can help out with you as well.

Regular sport events are mostly triathlons or running events. For example the whole and half marathon in the city and partly the park. Co-workers of mine have participated in various events in Valencia.

I am mostly outside to work out, for a hike or a swim in a local open air pool. Supporting is even better I think, whether I visit soccer or the basketball team it does not matter. I just really like the atmosphere.

[From Brett Hetherington's website]

Here’s a quiz question. Apart from football, in what other sport does a Catalan team play with the best that the world has to offer?

If you were to ask this question in Barcelona or Girona, not many people’s answers would include the words ‘rugby league’.

Recently, though, there have been moves to change this situation: a boost has been given to the sport thanks to the rise of the Perpignan-based Catalan Dragons (or Els Dracs, as they’re known here), who reached the final of the Carnegie Challenge Cup at Wembley against St Helen’s last August.

Rugby league normally receives precious little media coverage in Catalonia, but the significance of this cup final match saw it broadcast on TV3, while French satellite channel Canal Plus screened their previous semi-final victory.

The local rugby industry hopes that such publicity will have a positive knock-on effect on local interest in the sport.

A similar ambition was the inspiration behind a recent event staged at the University of Girona’s Palau Sacosta sporting complex.

The day was billed as an opportunity to ‘Come and Discover Rugby XIII’ (as distinct from the more well-known 15-player ‘code’ of rugby union), and primarily designed to give union players some exposure to the league form of the sport, with both its similarities and differences on show.
While there is a history of 13-a-side rugby in Catalonia, it would be stretching the truth to say that it has a strong tradition.

Talking about the history of rugby league in Catalonia, Enric Ballaguer, one of the Girona event organisers said: “It all started in 1934 [sic.], but in 1993 there was a celebrated match between Catalan XIII and the British club side Huddersfield at the Stade Olympic at Montjuic. It was arranged by Llibert Lopez and more than 10,000 spectators came to watch.”

The idea that the sport is growing in popularity is supported by Jean Claude Touxagas, who was invited to the Girona event because of his expertise as President of the Perpignan-based Palau Treize Broncos, who play in the Ligue Languedoc Roussillon.

He believes rugby league’s appeal is huge. “It’s a faster sport than others”, he said. “It’s easier to understand, the players are fitter and the contact is harder.”
But he suggests that rival commercial interests are “afraid of people seeing it on television.”

Despite this, his opinion is that channels such as France’s Sport Plus could begin to regularly show games in the future.

Clearly, there are fans of rugby league that echo these sentiments about its attractiveness as an entertainment.

“I go to matches often,” said Maria Rosa Vilaro, who joined the Girona gathering. “I like the atmosphere, and the Dragons song is ‘Els Segadors,’ our national anthem.”

Another fan of Els Dracs, Marti Crespo, agreed. “For me, it’s the energetic speed of the game,” said Crespo.

“It’s non-stop. I got tired with football and I’ve found something spectacular in the high level of the Super League in which the Catalans play.”

Valu Bentley, a lock forward from Palau Treize who has two brothers playing for the Catalan Dragons, agrees that improvements are happening in the sport.

He told me: “The standard is really progressing. Overseas players boost us and their professionalism helps lift the local guys.”

He admits though that homesickness can be a problem for some and that working visas for Australians and New Zealanders are not as easy to obtain as they are for others recruited from outside Catalonia.
Despite this, there is a definite multicultural aspect to rugby league in Catalonia now.

Players in the Dragons and Palau clubs have family backgrounds from countries as diverse as Romania, Morocco, and south Pacific island nations such as Samoa, as well as Australasia, France and Catalonia.

This general international expansion of the sport has embraced relative newcomers including Russia and Scotland, and last year the Rugby League European Federation hosted the final of the European Cup under-16 tournament in Belgrade.

In this part of the world too, the sport of rugby league now appears to be waking up. Talks have begun to introduce a version of the game into secondary schools in the Girona area.

“The great dream is to one day have an international match here against another national team,” said Enric Ballaguer.

Planners are also devising a competition made up of teams from Girona, Olot and Barcelona, with the possibility of matches being played at RCD Espanyol’s current home in Barcelona.

The sharing of facilities between sports is of course nothing new. There is already collaboration between FC Barcelona and its amateur rugby team.

One of the most intriguing and potentially promising current developments is that the Barça management has been seriously discussing setting up a rugby league team with the ambition of expanding their involvement in a range of sports.

There is said to be disagreement within the club on this issue, but sources say that these differences of opinion will soon be sorted out.

Naturally, the prospect of attracting the financial muscle of Barça to the cause of rugby league has provoked excitement amongst supporters of the game.

“We don’t want to be in competition with other sports,” said Enric Ballaguer. “We don’t want a fight. We just want to provide another option.”

[A version of this article was first published in The Girona Resident magazine]

Following my previous entry I received a question regarding sports for people in a wheelchair and in search to answer that I found a few links that are helpful for handicapped sports in Valencia.

I had been to Madrid for a week by end of Feb, I found football was the favorite game among all. And I liked the culture of drinking beer and watching football in big screen. I was lucky to watch the live match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.


Here in my little town of Rafal in the Vega Baja, we have a sport named Estruja. It is a sort of like croquet which involves hitting a multi-faceted ball with a heay mallet through hoops embedded into a stony surface area, in our case the municipal car park. Unusual, but the game is starting to grow in popularity in the region.

Apart from that, I go jogging in the morning with my best bud, my dog.

Hello Priscilla!

I am Zsolt from Hungary but now I am living in Spain next to San Pedro (Costa del Sol).

I dont know the other part of Spain, but here I think the most popular sports are: football, padel, basketball. If you want to find to do your sport you can do it with internet, because more or less everything are on.
My favorite sport is basketball, because I am a former professional basketball player, then the next is tennis. I do both of them very often, because I want to stay in good condition, I need it cause I am personal trainer...

What about Mauricius in this topic?

Bye !


Hi everyone,

Thank you for your feedbacks on this topic.

@ Zsolt, please note that Priscilla forms part of the Expat.Com moderation Team. This topic is a general one launched on all forums so as to gather a maximum info for the benefit of members (expats as well as future expats). You will find the same topic on the Mauritius forum here :

All the best,

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