Family Fun - Sport on the Costa del Sol
For such a relatively short stretch of land in relation to the size of the country, the 160+ kilometres (not counting inland areas) of the Costa del Sol manage to pack in more sporting activities than it really ought to. But this is great news for those who like a bit of activity to go with their laid-back lifestyles in sunny southern Spain. And even if you don’t physically like to kick a football or serve up an ace on the court, there is plenty to keep the armchair sports enthusiast entertained throughout the year too.
Things may have calmed a little since the heady heights of the Spanish football team’s European and World Cup successes (given their rather rapid decline in form), but Spain still remains easily Europe’s most football-crazy nation. Mini-Iniestas and pint-sized Fernando Torreses can be seen practising their skills on every patch of grass, stretch of beach and level urban space up and down the land, and for the bigger televised games (such as Real Madrid v Barcelona – ‘el clásico’) the entire country grinds to a halt. The national side may not be performing as well as they used to, but that doesn’t mean the Spanish population has lost any interest in the game. Málaga’s La Liga team attract packed houses each week at the impressive La Rosaleda stadium in the city centre, and going to a game is the perfect opportunity to witness some of the world’s greatest footballing talent on display, particularly if Málaga is playing one of the bigger clubs. All along the Costa del Sol there is the opportunity to watch smaller games – from lower league teams to local children’s football matches – and not only enjoy the football but also observe the infectious passion among the fans.
No guide to sport on the Costa del Sol would be complete without a mention of golf. With more than 70 quality courses to play on and near-perfect playing conditions year round, you could play a different course every weekend for more than a year and never play the same one twice. The Coast is a golfer’s paradise and even those not interested in taking to the fairways can sit at the clubhouse and take in the amazingly beautiful views instead.
With each year rugby grows in popularity in Spain and because of the large international mix of residents on the Coast, the game is of particular interest here. Marbella Rugby Club features the sons and daughters of Spanish, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, Argentinean and other nationalities who live here, and the club dominates the Andalusian and national rugby scene. The club has teams at every age level and is always on the lookout for new players, and watching a match at their home ground near the Hospital Costa del Sol is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Rafa Nadal has done a lot for tennis in Spain, and his success has led to surging interest among Spaniards to pick up a racquet and take to the court. Tennis though, is unlikely to displace the sport of padel as the number one racquet-based game in Spain. Like a mixture between tennis and squash, padel is inconceivably popular and has resulted in literally hundreds of padel courts and numerous clubs on the Costa del Sol. Great to play and equally compelling to watch too.
Cricket - that most British of sports - is also popular thanks to the large number of expats living on the Coast. The Costa del Sol Cricket Club has been running for decades and they regularly hold games at the Cártama Oval.
You name it, the Costa del Sol has it. Basketball, bowling, green bowling, cycling, hiking, poker, bridge, pétanque, swimming, martial arts, Gaelic football (yes, Marbella, Seville and Gibraltar all have their own Irish football teams), polo, horse-riding, roller-blading, sailing, fishing, climbing… the list of sporting activities is endless. The climate, Mediterranean diet and desire to look good on the beach means that keeping fit is a way of life on the Costa del Sol, and there is a huge selection of ways in which to do so.