Aitor Elizegi Using Food To Connect With The Players And Hopes To Take The Team To Visit Basques Communities Abroad
Since the promotion of Gaizka Garitano Athletic have been playing fantastic football. The Lions have been in great form under the manager but the improvement also coincides with Aitor Elizegi winning the Presidential election. Elizegi has constantly voiced his support of Garitano and he recently spoke with Miguel Ángel Garcia of Marca where he said he believes that Athletic have become one of the hardest teams to beat in La Liga.
“This is Athletic and I insist that only few games will be lost in this second round of the season. We already see at the San Mamés the hardness and pressure and desire to compete. Away from home we are also playing very hard and intense matches where it is difficult to score against us. I think that very few teams can dominate us. Gaizka and Patxi have sent a clear message. At the San Mamés we are playing the way that has been internalized for decades. It’s a way of playing that almost every player has in their DNA and understand it perfectly.”
Elizegi made his mark on the Basque Country by becoming a famous chef and opening several restaurants. He admitted that he’s spent a lot of time in the kitchens at Lezama and has used that as a way to connect with the players more. He’s also proud of the nutritionists currently at the club.
“My vehicle to connect with the club and players has been nutrition and food. I’ve been in the kitchen day to day and I spend many hours in the kitchen at Lezama where I enjoy a little of what is happening at the buffet, at the table. That’s where I’m most enjoying myself. We have Toscana in the team, a nutritionist who between the two of us are creating nice things that we hope will mean an improvement in the first team. If possible it will also help every level at Lezama. When I became President my first visit was with the Women’s team and the second was with the Lezama chefs.”
When asked about what he’s currently trying to accomplish as the President Elizegi named three specific topics. He hopes to improve relations with the league and Spanish Federation, build a better Grada de Animación, and potentially be a host site for big games such as the Copa del Rey final.
“We want to change the day to day of the relationship between the club and the communication and the relationship with Madrid (LaLiga and RFEF) and we think we have done that since the first minute. We try to make it so that our days in Madrid have constancy and the ability to influence and share ideas, which is essential for a club like Athletic. We also think the Grada de Animación should be at the height and we will not give up on that effort. We will try to work so that it becomes part of the European football ideology. We also want to host big games. We are looking at the EUROs and would be open to hosting the Copa del Rey final as well.”
To close the President discussed the possibility of taking the team on a preseason tour of the United States and some areas of South America where there are many Basque communities. He wants to be close to supporters who don’t like in Euskal Herria and says the club is always looking at ways to make it possible.
“Yes we are interested in taking the team to the United States, Argentina, and other places where there are Basque communities. Our preseasons are very short, usually playing in Bizkaia and against some English clubs. Of course we would like those Basques who once had to emigrate and their eyes light up when they talk about Athletic to see this team in Boise, Idaho and other places as well. There is more to Athletic and it wouldn’t have to be only the first team. We are already working on this. We think it would be a great trip in the sense that we can show that we know they miss use, but that we miss them too. You can’t stop loving those who love you.”
Aitor Elizegi has only been the Athletic President for a little over a month but he has already accomplished some of his goals. He promised that the Women’s team would have chances to play at the San Mamés and that happened on Wednesday when they set a Spain attendance record for a Women’s football match. Elizegi has surrounded him with people he trusts to get things done and the hope is that he will continue delivering on his promises and goals that were laid out during his campaign.