Wellington Phoenix players have teamed up with the Spanish embassy to promote two Spanish passions - language and football.
The education and sport consultant for the embassy, Pablo Mateu, is enthusiastic about encouraging New Zealanders to learn Spanish, the world's second-most spoken language.
He also loves football, which is understandable for a man whose team, known as La Furia Roja (the Red Fury), are the reigning European and world champions.
Spanish Football aims to get students more interested in learning the language through the use of Spanish-speaking players, such as the Phoenix's Dani Sanchez and Ricardo Clarke.
The project was proposed for schools that offer, or are willing to offer, a Spanish programme, and operates in two parts. The first is spent in the classroom, where the students are invited to speak in full immersion Spanish.
Then they go outside to work on football skills with the likes of Sanchez and Clarke.
"Our main goal is promoting Spanish, but we're delighted to have football and New Zealand teams on board. It's a win-win situation," Mr Mateu says.
"We have all the support from the teams. They're delighted and so are we."
The initiative started in Auckland earlier this month, and Mr Mateu has had applications from more than 50 schools.
"We wanted to start to see how it worked, and are very pleased with the outcome.
"The students were delighted and they had a lot of fun. It's like an extra motivation to study Spanish and to play football."
- The Dominion Post
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