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Watch: The fan-led league with inclusion at its heart

Watch: The fan-led league with inclusion at its heart
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By Gregory WardAlberto Chelleri
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Rubén Almazán Estepa and Álvaro Cano are ambassadors for the Liga Genuine, a football league for players with intellectual disabilities.

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Rubén Almazán and Álvaro Cano, two best friends diagnosed with Down's syndrome, are self-described "Hardcore football fans". Their friendship began when they competed in the Special Olympics. Rubén won gold, and Álvaro secured a silver medal.

Rubén and Álvaro are captains of the Nastic team. With their parents' support, they submitted a proposal to La Liga to establish a soccer league exclusively for players facing challenges similar to their own.

The president of the Spanish Football League, Javier Tebas, gave them his full support and the league was named "Liga Genuine". The initiative offers players a fresh opportunity to pursue their dreams, aligning with La Liga's dedication to fostering diversity and inclusion.

The Liga Genuine, embraced by most major professional clubs in Spain, has become a platform for players of all ages and genders to showcase their football skills.

Rubén and Álvaro, appointed as its ambassadors, have not only become joint captains of their favourite team, Nàstic Genuine, but also symbols of the league's positive influence on its players.

Aside from their Liga Genuine ambassador roles, Rubén and Álvaro work at Nastic Football Club full-time and give tours of the stadium they share with sister club, professional team Gimnàstic de Tarragona.

The best friends teach visitors about the club and league. According to their coach, Rafael Magrinya, the football-loving pair are the most popular players in the entire club.

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