Safety in numbers for Primera Division battlers Real Betis with grassroots partnership

The Seville club have secured a deal to boost player development that could help them become Spanish top-flight mainstays, writes Martin Whiteley. 

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Like many clubs wishing to start a women’s team before them, and probably plenty in the future too, Real Betis began life by integrating an already functioning local club Azahar CF into their family.

That team started playing in a regional league in Seville in the 2011/12 season. Although they did not secure promotion by their on-field results, when another team pulled out due to financial problems, they were offered a place in group four of the second division for the following campaign.  

After four seasons playing as a tier-two side, Real Betis achieved promotion to the top table after a 3-2 aggregate win over CD Femarguin. They managed a respectable 11th-placed finish in their maiden top-flight campaign and the team continued to progress as they concluded the next two seasons occupying the sixth position.

In the Covid-19 disrupted campaign, the side from Seville slipped down to 12th in the final standings. This term Real Betis — now coached by former Tottenham co-boss Juan Carlos Amoros — find themselves once again towards the lower end of the table. In fact, it took a 3-1 win at home to Deportivo La Coruna in their penultimate game on Saturday to secure their Primera Division status for another season.

This triumph for the hosts moved them onto 34 points in 12th place and condemned Deportivo to the drop. The visitors had come into this contest in the final relegation position trailing their opponents by five points knowing they needed to win their last two games to stand any chance of staying up.  

Despite their own precarious position and uncertainty about which level they would be playing at next season, Real Betis were still looking for ways to improve the chances of success for the club in the future. 

Part of that plan was an announcement recently that they had signed a collaboration agreement with local side CFF Ciudad de Dos Hermanas for next season. Dos Hermanas borders the city of Seville and, under the direction of president Lola Palma, currently runs five sides at various age groups that compete in the Andalusian Football Federation leagues.

The aim going forward is for CFF Ciudad to operate teams from eight-year-olds to a senior side that will enable grassroots women’s football to flourish in the Seville area. The training for the Dos Hermanas teams will all be supervised by Real Betis and, in return, they will have the first option on buying any of their players.

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Establishing yourself in any new league can be a difficult transition and can take many years to achieve. Add to that having to compete against some of the most renowned clubs in the world and that becomes a whole lot more challenging. 

With far fewer financial resources to fall back on, a club like Real Betis has to use any advantage it can find to hold its own. The chance to potentially find untapped talent right on their doorstep could just be the key move that helps keeps preserving their top-flight status in the years to come.

Follow Martin on Twitter at @673martin

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