The ‘pilota’ (ball) in Sant Joan
Former pilotaires we remember include Ximo Miralles, Vicente, Paco Navarro, Pepe from the San Roc Bar, Jaime Olcina, Julianet, Paquito la abuela (Grandmother), Vicente Caturla … Amateurs who left their work every afternoon and put their gloves on and hit the ‘pilota’ in the streets, such as in Carrer del Carme, del Mar and even in Santa Faç. With them it was possible to officially register the Benimagrell Pilota Club, entering into the competition and consolidating everything that other players defend nowadays so that this sport continues to carry the name of our town around different places.
This sports entity was officially registered as a sports club 32 years ago. Despite this, it has been competing for more than 55 years in our town. The first official league played by the club was the Lliga Autonòmica de Llargues (Regional ‘Llargues’ League) and Palma Trofeu Diputació d’Alacant (Alacant Provincial Council’s Palma Trophy), in the 3rd category, competing against other localities such as Agost, Mutxamel, San Fulgencio or Tibi, among many others.
Over the years, new generations have trained and competed for this club, including: Jaime, Pedro and Jose Olcina, Paco Terol, Felo Caturla or José Sala, among others. As a result, in a short period of time the Pilota Benimagrell Club promoted to another category. Its first triumph was the championship in the third category and promotion to the second. There, the team obtained four championships in the modalities of Llargues and Palma. With the incorporation of Daniel Sansano, who served in the Sant Fulgencio team, the team promoted to the first category, making history in the club.
All this has given rise to young promises of this sport, who train every day at the Pilota School, an entity that receives the support of the local government and institutions, specially from Paco and Edmundo Seva. There were approximately 22 students during the first year, and currently the small ‘pilotaires’ compete in the Jocs Esportius of the Comunitat Valenciana (Comunitat Valenciana Games).
A lot of santjoaners have contributed in one way or another so that this club keeps growing day by day, continuing its work and training great players.
The Lliga Autonòmica de Llargues i Palma Trofeu Diputació d’Alacant is one of the competitions that take place in the Comunitat Valenciana. There, our first-category team of Llargues managed to came in second. Thanks to that achievement, the club was able to participate in the Coupe des Champions, the most important international competition of clubs, in which the Belgian, Dutch, Italian, French, Basque and Valencian champion teams participated. For our team it was an honour to be able to represent Sant Joan d’Alacant in this competition, since it had never happened before in the history of the Benimagrell Pilota Club. In addition the team were the runners-up in the edition celebrated in Alfara del Patriarca (Valencia) in 2014. All this has been followed by a ‘palma’ championship in the second category and five other first category sub-championships in ‘llargues’ and ‘perxa’ in the last 5 years.
Every year on 9 October, the Jaime Olcina Memorial is celebrated and the most distinguished players of the moment come to participate in it. Jaime was a great driver of the ‘pilota’ in Benimagrell, and he also has a monument at Benimagrell Park.