Monday, July 15, 2024

Rocafonda is the hometown of Lamine Yamal, who is only 16 years old. Since making his debut for Barcelona’s first team at the age of 15 years, nine months, and 16 days, Yamal’s football skills have developed incredibly fast. On October 8th, he became the youngest goalscorer in La Liga history, and this weekend, Real Madrid considers him to be one of their most dangerous opponents in El Clasico. His talent has drawn comparisons to Lionel Messi, and there is a great deal of expectation surrounding his future.

Yamal has always been aware of his special connection to Rocafonda, which is his “family and emotional core,” according to a resident. Rocafonda is a neighborhood within Mataro, a town located 40 minutes up the coast from Barcelona. Although it is geographically privileged, Rocafonda is a humble neighborhood surrounded by affluent cities.

Yamal’s football journey began on a concrete court next to the local municipal sports ground, where children who can’t afford club fees often play. The court is an important gathering place for the neighborhood and is marked with graffiti that says “Rocafonda” and the local postcode, 08304. Yamal has a strong sense of belonging to this place and referenced the postcode when celebrating his first goal for Barcelona.

In Rocafonda, there are signs of Yamal’s connection everywhere, including a mural of him at a small bakery run by one of his cousins and uncle. The bakery has become more crowded since Yamal’s debut, as children rush in after playing football to buy their favorite snacks. Yamal’s grandmother, Fatima, was the first to move the family from Morocco to Spain 35 years ago, and she is always grateful for anyone who shows interest in her grandson. Yamal’s parents separated when he was three, and he went to live with his mother in a nearby neighborhood. It was there that he encountered Inocente Diez, a former footballer, who encouraged Yamal’s mother to enroll him in the local club, La Torreta.

La Torreta helped Yamal and his family when they faced financial difficulties and supported him as he developed his skills. Despite attending school in a different town and playing for La Torreta, Rocafonda remained home for Yamal. Even after moving to Barcelona’s youth academy, the connection remained strong.

The neighborhood of Rocafonda was built in the 1970s and was initially inhabited by working-class families and economic migrants. Over the years, the demographic has changed, and many long-time residents have left due to aging and the lack of elevators in the buildings. Rocafonda has faced challenges, including reports of violence and squatting in vacant buildings. However, residents acknowledge the neighborhood’s potential and hope for improvements in the future.

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