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LADIES
FRIDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2018

Origins

The union between Athletic Club and Leioa E.F.T. for the 2002-03 campaign meant that our organization had a feminine team in the maximum category of state football. The magnificent campaigns achieved by Iñigo JuaristiÂ’s girls took them in two years from playing in the territorial category to rise to the honour division, or otherwise named the Superliga. This supposed that the red-white feminine football project started in the elite right from the start and, therefore, with the highest aspirations.

Leioa E.F.T. was champion of group I in the national category at the end of the regular season. Between the six winners of each group they disputed a mini-league divided in two classifications. In group 1, the Canary Rayco was dominated by Rayo Vallecano and Atlético Jienense. The Leioa team did the same in group 2 against Barcelona and the Amigos del Duero. Therefore, both remaining clubs disputed the final in two legs. On their visit to Las Palmas, the girls from Leioa took a valuable nil-nil draw, and in the second leg match, the Biscayan players endorsed a forceful 7-0 over the islanders.

A young club

Feminine football appeared in Biscay in 1970. Kemen from Durango, Ekintza from Zeberio, Soberano from Arratia, Gorantza from Galdakao, Maiona from Sondika, Byas 96 from Bilbao, Basauri, Zamudio and La Arboleda were some of the pioneering teams that participated in matches of popular celebrations. The difficulties they found in order to continue were many and most of them were forced to disappear. The only survivor was Sondika with the name of Txorierriko Neskak.

First state championship

The first state championship was organized in the 1982-83 season. The Biscayan Federation could only recruit the teams from Ollargan and Txorierri, being this last one the winner of the two legged encounter. In the 83-84 season appeared the clubs from Amorebieta and San Francisco and a year later, Orduña and Rekalde. On 6 May 2000, a group of people who until then were linked to C.D. Sondika founded the Leioa E.F.T. Most of the players of the Sondika happened to integrate the new group. Since then, this club collaborates with the training centres to form football 7 players and every summer organizes a tournament with international teams. The Burgos locality of Trespaderne welcomed on 20 August 2000 the first Leioa 'blaugranas', which defeated by 1-5 the N.B. Multiópticas. Iraia Iturregi, from Loiu scored the first goal in the history of this club. Two months later, on 1 October, Arantza Andrés had the honour of scoring the first official point in the victory by 21-0 against Elorrio.

Without knowing defeat

In the 2000-01 season, Leioa competed in the territorial category, occupying the first position at the end of the regular season. The ascent to the national did not suppose a brake in the competence of its players, on the contrary, since they returned to again be at the highest in the following campaign.

This first position allowed them to participate in the ascent phase that opened the doors to the Superliga. In these two years, Leioa has not known defeat neither in the regular Liga nor in the play-off, and it has only drawn in two matches.

In addition to the team that competed in the national category, from September 2001 a second team has existed, the Leioa E.F.T., which obtained the fifth position in the territorial league, thanks to their feminine football school, in collaboration with the City Hall of this locality. More than 30 students, with ages ranging from 12 to 15 years, compose a universe of very hopeful future for feminine football in Biscay.

The optimism was the constant in the directors, technicians and players, facing the possibilities of the team in the Superliga, not in vain they were conscious that the jump supposed a new rate of game and, mainly, a much higher quality of the rival teams than what they had faced until now.

The giant of the Superliga was Levante, champion with a six point difference over Puebla. It scored 116 goals and it only allowed 12. Their numbers could be compared to those of the Leioa: 123 goals in favour and 19 against, with fourteen point difference over Lagunak and Eibartarrak. The Levante squad, the reserve for the national selection, was also proclaimed champion of the Queen's Cup. The Athletic Club was the only Basque representative of that category in its debut in the Superliga.

Debut in Superliga with title

The Athletic Club altered the structures of feminine football, after achieving the Liga championship in its debut among the elite. The players, directed by Iñigo Juaristi, resolved all the doubts and fully exceeded the expectations that were considered around the new sport section. We cannot avoid the great welcome that this win has had among the red-white social mass, whose maximum level was reached on 27 April 2003. On that unforgettable morning, San Mamés was packed to witness in situ the victory of the Athletic Club against the Hispalis from Seville, a victory that opened the doors wide to the Liga for the red-and-white players. The title of Superliga champion arrived with as many points as the until-then invincible Levante, which harvested a worse goal difference particularly with the Athletic Club.

The tremendous implantation that the new team has had not only in Biscay, but in all the scope of the Spanish State, has supposed an honour for a sport specialty that from its beginnings lives installed in a permanent state of stagnation. The Athletic Club has contributed a most important dose of new juice to feminine football and it is very important to take advantage of its pull to achieve that this sport manages to take off once and for all. With the Liga title hangover, whose celebrations even extended to the highest instances of the Basque Government -including the reception by President Juan Jose Ibarretxe in Ajuria Enea-, the red-and-white players attacked the double, but were eliminated in the semi-finals by the Estudiantes after an incredible 5-5 in the second leg match celebrated in Lezama. In the first leg, Juaristi's girls had fallen by 1-0, in what would be their second defeat of the season. The first defeat had happened on the second match-day against Sabadell seven months earlier.

The lionesses in Europe

The Athletic Club feminine team made their debut in the year 2003 in the UEFA Women's Cup, after conquering its first Superliga. The players, directed by Iñigo Juaristi, played a shining competition, in spite of being eliminated after losing in San Mamés against the FFC Frankfurt.

Two of two, the Superliga did not resist

The Athletic Club E.F.T was proclaimed, for the second consecutive year, champion of the Superliga. The project was revealed as totally consolidated. The girls trained by Iñigo Juaristi revalidated their condition of Champions in a season in which their rivals had reinforced themselves to the maximum, which increases, if it fits, the merit of the title that they made possible. The Athletic Club has gained by its own merits the right to participate once again in a new edition of the prestigious UEFA Women's Cup, the highest continental competition.

Three out of three

The Athletic Club Female team have won their third consecutive Superliga title. Iñigo Juaristi's players achieved this great feat by defeating F.C. Barcelona at Mini Estadi on the last match day. What's more, this achievement is even more amazing if you consider the fact that the Red-White team were undefeated throughout the entire championship.

The battle line had been drawn and there was no turning back. Levante-Athletic Club's one to one went our team's way in the end but with only a three-point difference between teams. Not only did the red-white victory against Barcelona and Levante's triumph against Sevilla at home on the last match day, result in no change to the three-point advantage that Athletic had over Levante, but resulted in the Red-Whites becoming Superliga champions once more as well.

The images of our team celebrating this incredible accomplishment in the main streets of Biscay's capital city and the sensational public response will never be forgotten. Athletic supporters of all ages came out in droves to cheer on the girls on such a special occasion, which took place on 26 April.

2008-09, Athletic begins a new season with all hopes fuelled on being able to compete for the Liga title. However, Levante's superiority and especially that of Rayo Vallecano prevail with the rojiblancas once again finishing in third place on the table. In the Copa, luck was once again aloof in the draw, with FC Barcelona as the rojiblanca's rival. In spite of the 2-1 victory in the first leg, in the second leg the azulgranas were superior and won by 3-0.

2009-10, the season begins with an important change in the form of competition. First there will be three groups of eight teams and later another three groups will be formed, also of eight teams, which will fight for different objectives. In the first phase, Athletic Club finishes in first place against Prainsa Zaragoza, which gives it qualifies them to be a part of the best eight teams, who will be playing for the title. Espanyol and Rayo finish ahead of our team, whilst our team once again finished in an admirable third place. We should highlight that in mid February, Iñigo Juaristi decides to leave his post as head coach of the first team and Alberto Berasaluze will be taking the reins until the end of the season. From this moment on Juaristi, a coach with the best career path of the Women's Superliga (4 titles), he devotes heart and soul into his work as general manager of Athletic Club Womens' football. In Copa, after eliminating UD Las Palmas, Athletic is defeated in quarter-finals by FC Barcelona.

2010-11, First season with Alberto Berasaluze at the forefront of Athletic's premier team. After ending in second place in the first phase and tying in points with Real Sociedad SAD, once again our team obtains the third position at the end of the Liga competition, behind Espanyol and Rayo. In Copa, Lagunak is eliminated but they fall in quarter-finals against Liga champions, Espanyol from Barcelona. At the end of the season, Alberto Berasaluze leaves his post and will be replaced by Juan Luis Fuentes.

2011-12, Juan Luis Fuentes' team achieves an unforgettable season. It loses just one match in the whole Liga season, which is once again played in one single phase, first and second leg, and where they ended the Liga in second place behind FC Barcelona who remained strong until the very end. In Copa, we finally reached the final. After eliminating the champions, FC Barcelona, the final is played against Espanyol. Only the scandalous arbitration of Lesma Lopez could get the better of our players who fell in overtime after playing with two players less due to the referee's double standards; a truly praiseworthy season which just needed the icing of a title.

2013-14. A new season with a double objective: To compete in order to reach the highest positions in Liga and reach the furthest in the Copa and, if possible, to win it for the first time in the history of the club.

In Liga, we once again obtained second place, but unlike the previous season, FC Barcelona took an ample points advantage and the championship had a winner several days before it ended.

In Copa, first Valencia fell, later Levante and in the awaited end FC Barcelona fell. It was time to play in Ceuta, at the Alfonso Murube. That is, the final was to be played over 1,000 kilometres from Bilbao and against Barcelona and in an artificial turf field.

Ninety minutes passed and the 0-0 persisted. A goal by Jenny gave the lead to the blaugranas in the extra time, but Nekane scored the equalizer and it was the penalty shoot-out what would decide the champion. FC Barcelona scored all five and Irene failed hers, thus the Copa went to Barcelona.

2014-15. The great novelty this season was that the second place finish in the classification was going to give way to participate in the next edition of the Champions League, a circumstance which was confirmed three days before the final, but could not be. Once again FC Barcelona took an early advantage and Atlético Madrid took second place. Perhaps for that reason the final result was rather bitter: third place and at the doors of playing a European competition.

In Copa, a new format was released. The 8 first classified played the Copa in neutral fields. We were up against Valencia who prevailed by 2-1 in quarterfinals.

We should highlight the fact that for the first time four of our players, Eli Ibarra, Erika, Irene and Ainhoa, were present in the World Cup.

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