The participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity afforded to them at the closing lunch
Although Australia's national team is not among the sport's powerhouses, football is popular there nonetheless. Spanish teams such as Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal and Real Madrid have taken part in tournaments and done pre-season tours in Australia. Real Madrid also manages a sports school through its Foundation in New South Wales, and some of its students recently visited Madrid to meet the team’s players.
Thanks to its global fame, Real Madrid's stadium was the venue chosen for the last activity in the programme, which consisted of a guided tour around the pitch, the locker rooms and the benches, as well as the trophy hall and an interactive room displaying the club's most memorable moments.
The agenda finished with lunch at the restaurant Puerta 57, during which the participants discussed and evaluated the programme together with the Foundation's Secretary General, Alonso Dezcallar. The Australian journalists emphasised the quality of the programme put together by the Spain-Australia Council Foundation and the professionalism of everyone they met throughout the week.
Some of the Leaders, especially Giles Parkinson, admitted to having been rather sceptical initially due to how broad the programme seemed to be. However, after the first meetings they understood the importance of becoming familiar with the country's general context instead of focusing on a specific sector. Giles Parkinson said inviting four journalists with such different backgrounds was “very ambitious” and recognised the Foundation's success in that regard.
Paul Kelly considered the Leaders programme to be “an extremely enriching experience.” The seasoned journalist from The Australian was impressed by the programme's variety and enjoyed receiving insights into a more modern Spain in fields such as technology and renewable energies. He also stated that it would be interesting to carry out similar activities in Australia.
The Foundation's Secretary General Alonso Dezcallar thanked the four journalists for taking part in the programme and especially for participating so actively. The ultimate goal, he said, was to show them a picture of the real Spain, and as Laurel Papworth said, the Foundation achieved just that: “To me, Spain was nothing but a tourist destination. I now feel closer to the country.” Alonso Dezcallar said he was delighted to have helped address “the lack of mutual knowledge which means that Spain and Australia do not consider each other top-level options.”
Australian Leaders Programme: Activity summary
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