Atenas became champion of the Third Division of Ascent (DTA) after beating Welcome and in his second year, after resuming basketball activity, he was promoted to play El Metro 2023.
In 2019, the team had abandoned the Uruguayan League dispute after an episode of violence (bars burst into the locker room with weapons to threaten their own players). Y in 2020 the black wings was on the verge of disappearance. However, a group of leaders currently commanded by Edison Lanza managed to rescue Athens from one of its most complex times and gave it a new impetus to return it to its rightful place.
“In May 2020 the club was very close to disappearing, very poorly managed, with a board of directors that had two people left, the infrastructure very deteriorated, many debts, with a roll of zero members. In an extraordinary assembly in which 100 people participated, alvaro de los santos He was elected president and was the first Afro-descendant president in the club’s history. And that’s where this group of leaders began to work,” Lanza reveals to Referee.
The talk is given in a club on the move. Despite the fact that the juveniles ceased their activities, there are clothing packages where the vacation colony is prepared. The field shines modern lighting, there are many hands that come and go working for the club, works projected on the old pediment and photos. Many photos that are pure history.
“We tried to recover the history of Athens and before each season we do a tribute. The first one we did was remove the 12 of Manolo Gadea and hang her in the gym, it was the banner of the 1969 champion. With the arrival of the Americans in the 1980s, the team had very good campaigns with Chino Belén, Walter Pagani, Daniel Alonso who was crowned with the 1980 Liguilla,” says Lanza.
Photo: Leonardo Carreno.
Bauhoffer, Arturaola, Lanza, Perdomo and Planells
The mural of those champions already shines in one of the stands while in the meeting room there is a huge photo of the Athenian Troupe. With Ramón Collazo and his brother, Juan Carlos, Uruguay’s coach at the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games, but also a musician and creator of tango music Garufa. “This photo was in the canteen,” says manager Hugo Arturaola. “One day, a drunk took out a gun and a shot went off. He hit the photo on the chest of the only member of the troupe who was alive at the time.”
Carnival is still linked to the intimate life of the club. At the headquarters, the neighborhood troupe rehearses their choreographies, the facalaanimator of Las Llamadas.
Like any neighborhood club, there is a social and integrating engine that goes beyond sports. Athens has agreements with three social institutions that carry out sports activities for people with disabilities or in a state of vulnerability at the club.
One, led by Gonzalo Carballido, serves children with disabilities. Another is the Centro Psicosocial Sur Palermo, a comprehensive psychosocial rehabilitation center for people with severe and persistent mental disorders with serious problems in their socialization and occupational reinsertion. The Etro School, which is attended by boys with Down syndrome or other disabilities, also has a place in the club for recreational activities.
Also on his court he develops his ADIC basketball activities.
Photo: Leonardo Carreno.
The Gabriel Layera grandstand and the mural of the 80’s champions
But for that, the club had to be reorganized after times where the situation of the officials was chaotic and where there were even people inside the club, living.
“We rearranged it, refinanced it and paid the debts. We had terrible lighting and we changed it, the plumbing collapsed and we fixed it, we renovated the changing rooms, the roofs were leaking due to humidity. The pandemic allowed us, with an investment plan, to recover the facilities “Lance declares.
“Develop the marketing area and social networks that have become professionalized,” he adds.
Arturaola notes: “Athens has always remained a competitive team and its fans have a strong and mystical lineage. We always see the flags of Sur and Palermo, because Athens has two neighborhoods, and that’s why we put it on their shirts, but here it comes people from Cerro Norte, from 40 Weeks. Atenas transcends the neighborhood”.
When the club closed its doors, it was left without members and without youth. But this year they opted for the former player and coach of Biguá, Juan José Rovira, to put together his youth project. Between the little school and the formative ones there are 90 kids training. Those who come from the interior are paid passage. Several are paid a ticket and even some of critical contact are served until dinner.
“The secret of this stage is that there is a large group behind and among them a basketball commission that raises funds throughout the year to put the team on the court to compete. And that is a great effort. Daniel Planells, Fabian Bauhoffer, Fernando Almada. We plan not to do crazy things, we don’t plan to reach the League in two or three years, we have limited resources,” admits Lanza.
The fans of the DTA champion
Gonzalo Vico, Nany Faro, José Calderón and Daniel Barruti are the other members of the board that accompany Lanza, De los Santos and Arturaola.
“You have to consolidate works to be able to grow. We are going to transform the old pediment into an auxiliary court for formative But that requires an investment,” they say.
Security, the drama of the big fans
“Athens is a big club and big clubs have complex problems. We are selling 400, 500 tickets per game and putting 700, 800 people on the pitch. We hire our own security. Since we have been here, the fans have not generated problems. Yes, there is a group of boys who, within the issues of coexistence that the country has, have the same problems that other institutions may have. But we also have dialogue with them. From outside, many give you advice as if it were easy, but it is not easy at all. They are fans who follow him everywhere, they have their logic. They are spoken to, they are tried to make them understand,” admits Lanza.
In the regular season match against Welcome, the game was suspended due to the excessive use of the drums by the Atenas fans and when the judges left they received insults. That cost the black wings a four-game field closure, the loss of the game and the removal of two points.
“In the case of the drums, we told them that it cost us a sanction. Was what the judges of that match did exaggerated? Yes, they handled it badly. But they warned us that they should not continue playing the drums. When that situation arose, It seemed that it could cost us bigger problems, we decided not to play with visiting fans nor were we going to take fans to the away games, we closed the register and everything went well”, says Lanza.
Photo: Leonardo Carreno.
The new and modern lighting of Athens
“Next year there will be a regulation of coexistence and behavior and no one can do without having their own security, said security must be professional and have approved courses and we have to live together and continue talking with these guys. When we leave the “We are all affected by the rules. The same, I reiterate, we have not had problems with violence. But we are aware that the fans did something that they had been warned not to do and if they kept doing it, they would have problems,” he adds.
The long-awaited promotion
“Both years we put together teams to go up. Athens was in the Third Division not due to sporting demerits. He was in First Division and he stopped competing and what would have been appropriate was for him to go down to play El Metro, but all the clubs voted not to go to El Metro but to Tercera. Now we are in El Metro for sporting merit,” says Arturaola, whose father, also called Hugo, was a soccer coach with an outstanding career and who was also the founder of the murga La Nueva Milonga, owned by Tito Pastrana, and president of DAECPU in more than of an occasion.
“After the holidays we are going to put together a team to compete in El Metro, a team that does not stray from the parameters of our reality, that competes. And then the result will be seen. The income that the club obtains is to maintain the operating cost of the club and the formative ones. Professional basketball is going in another lane”, he reveals.
In 2021 the club surprisingly crashed in the semifinals against San Telmo Rapidosport. This year he appealed to a very good squad, Martín Perdomo, Joaquín Terra, Johnny Rodríguez, Joaquín Jones, Nahuel Santos, Rogelio De León, Cristian Modernell and Camilo Colman, and Martín Sedes as coach. The team was champion and in 2023 it will belong to El Metro. One step closer to what its 104 years of history claim.
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The new face of Athens: work, projection, growth and a champion team