|21 March 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Estudiantes players form the word 'thousand' and the number '1,000'. The senior team players are in the bottom left of the image|
The importance of a basketball club is not only measured by its current position in the standings or its commercial success.
Some clubs stand out because they resemble living organisms with clearly recognisable values engrained in their DNA.
One of those clubs is the historical Asefa Estudiantes, whose senior team is going through a rough season and is now fighting to avoid relegation from the Liga Endesa (Spanish ACB league).
Since 1948, when teachers at the Ramiro de Maeztu school in Madrid first thought of basketball as the perfect vehicle to encourage their students (‘Estudiantes' means Students in Spanish) to pursue interests outside of the strict academic environment, the club's mission statement has not changed one iota.
The main objective of Estudiantes to this day is to offer young people a way to develop their personalities, to enrich their lives through sport.
The club celebrates its legacy with a team photo every year.
By ‘team', they mean all their players, on more than 80 teams across all age categories and of both sexes, from a 4-year-old boy who is the youngest player at the club right now, to 36-year-old former Spain captain Carlos Jimenez.
This year, the club realised they have exactly 1,000 players in their ranks. When posing for the photo, the players thought the top row should form the word ‘Mil' (thousand) and the bottom row the number.
For Great Britain international Daniel Clark, who moved to Madrid as a young teenager precisely to join the youth system of Estudiantes, this is pretty much a family photo.
"I've lost count of how many (annual photos) I've been in, this must be my 10th now," the British forward said.
"It's a moment that reminds you what this club stands for, what it represents for so many people and what is the real reason we're competing in the Spanish top flight."