- Traditional culture is treasured in Brittany
- Spain are on a high after winning their first two matches
- The cultural outing helped the Spaniards unwind between games
If you have been to Brittany, you will have no doubt heard the unmistakable strains of the bagpipes and the bombard. You probably enjoyed a galette – the buckwheat-based pancakes that are a typical Breton delicacy – washed down with some local cider. You may even have come across some Bigouden people, with their trademark headdress, or danced a bourrée. However, if you have never been fortunate enough to holiday along the Breton coast, these cultural morsels may not mean a lot to you.
When the Spanish U-20 women's team headed to Pont-Aven earlier this week, it is safe to say they had little idea of what lay in store for them. An expression of wonder spread across all 21 players' faces when Breton folk music began ringing out within a courtyard, before a group of dancers clad in traditional costumes made their entrance. The members of Bro Goz Ar Milinou, an association that promotes the region's culture, put on a fine show before inviting the Spaniards to join in.
"It's been really great to discover the local culture. It is a chance to laugh, dance and have a good time with the girls, and is a way of unwinding and bonding off the pitch," Spain goalkeeper Maria Isabel Rodriguez told FIFA.com. She was one of the players who most got into the spirit, dancing from the first second to the last, and she even ended up sporting a traditional hat, having cheekily whipped it off the head of the dance troupe's oldest member.
Attacker Lucia Garcia, a veteran of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016, also savoured the moment. "It's fun to be here and to get to fly the flag, dance, sing and listen to some typical music," she said. "We've had a real blast today." After shaking a leg alongside her team-mates, she hoisted aloft the Gwenn-ha-du, the Breton flag, and then tried her hand at playing the bombard, while chatting with some local youngsters.
"It does us good to have a break from the competition and football, albeit without losing our focus," Garcia added. Rodriguez concurred: "After a match, it's always nice to do something different and take our minds off the game."
The strategy clearly paid off, as two days later, La Rojita made it two wins from as many games by beating Japan 1-0. "We're convinced that we can go really far in this competition because we're like a family. That's the key to our success," said Garcia, who is eager to stick around in Brittany for as long as possible – not only to lift the U-20 Women's World Cup trophy, but also so that she and her team-mates can continue to experience everything this magical region has to offer.