Benjamín Zarandona, a former Spanish-Equatorial Guinean football player, played as a midfielder in the Spanish national team U21, the absolute selection of Equatorial Guinea and in seven Spanish clubs, with eleven seasons in the first division, for the Real Valladolid, Betis and Cadiz teams.
From an Equatorial Guinean mother and a Spanish father, during his childhood and youth, he lived in Valladolid. He currently participates in sports programs such as Carrusel Deportivo and El Larguero de la Cadena Ser, Deportes Cuatro, an activity that complements his solidarity work.
He is also an active member of the Real Betis Balompié Foundation, which trains children from Equatorial Guinea to participate in various football tournaments in Spain. He is also an ambassador for the Martinez Hermanos Foundation.
For the past nine years, he has been developing a charitable calendar for the Malabo orphanage. So much so that on April 17, he organized a female charity match in Canillas (Madrid) between Africans and Spaniards. On the same day, in the evening, a dinner (la septima) is offered in the Zielou restaurant (Madrid).
Q: you have developed your sports career in clubs like Valladolid, Betis, Cadiz, has football changed since your “retirement”?
A: Football is now much more physical and has more tactical game systems, with three central and two lateral, thus having a sort of defense for five players. Before the game system was the same for all teams, 4-3-2-1.
Q: Sport combines values such as competitiveness, solidarity, camaraderie … is it possible to use sport as a universal language to develop social, diversity and integration projects? What can sport bring to this type of action?
A: Sport, whether it be football, basketball, rugby … makes it possible to develop solidarity projects. Boys and girls see us as athletes, they take us as a vital reference, as an example to follow. Therefore, it is important that athletes organize social events and attract many social groups, allowing the implementation of different social projects. Any solidarity campaign that you want to create must have professional athletes from around the world to be able to attract different sectors of the population. social groups, allowing the implementation of different social projects. Any solidarity campaign that you want to create must have professional athletes from around the world to be able to attract different sectors of the population.
Q: His life has always been a life of commitment and solidarity with your country and with those who need it most. You participated in donations of sports equipment, and organized matches to raise funds for various causes, you installed artificial turf on football fields, what are his future projects?
R; I have been part of the R. Betis Balompié Foundation for three years, training children in Equatorial Guinea through football and training methodology in Spain. The main objective is to train them as people and organize a trip to Spain to enjoy it. It is a huge personal satisfaction for me.
Thanks to the Martinez Hermanos Foundation, this year we will continue to develop solidarity projects, by carrying out balloon and shoe collection campaigns. We will continue with the campus during the months of July and August in Bata, and as a novelty we want to prepare the first campus in Malabo. We will continue to collect the material and deliver it to Bata and Malabo.
Q: Recently, you donated to 22 teams from Equatorial Guinea, which brought together 400 children, complete football kits. What did the children transmit when they received the sports equipment?
A: The last donation made through the Martinez Hermanos Foundation, all the equipment of the Real Valladolid of the Hummel brand was delivered. A new and complete kit. This was a success and the different teams did very well.
We have an agreement with the SEUR Foundation, which is responsible for the logistics of the distribution of equipment from Valencia. From Valencia to Equatorial Guinea, it is the Martinez Hermanos Foundation that is responsible for its delivery to schools, associations that demand help. We have a very complete list.
Q: Equatorial Guinea, a country rich in its culture, its traditions, its nature, what remains to be done in this country in terms of sport?
A: Honestly Equatorial Guinea is a marvel sportingly. I consider it important to promote women’s football from an early age, 8 to 10 years. They have a good level of play and all it takes is to be close to the boys and girls, teach them a training methodology so that they start small.