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Friday, 17 September 2010 10:26

British expats and Olhanense – a match made in heaven

Olhanense coach Duato Faquira flanked by British fans

The story of an Algarvian love affair

One of the Algarve’s biggest sporting events in years takes place tonight, as Olhanense host Portimonense in the first Algarve derby between top-flight teams since the 1989/90 season. The hosts will be cheered on, as ever, by a very special set of supporters.
 
Among the big crowd at the Estadio Jose Arcanjo will be a group of fans who have taken their adopted club to their hearts. “I think we’ll finish mid table with the smallest playing budget in the league: €1.4 million,” confidently predicts joint founder of the Olhanense British Expats Supporters Group, Chris Wright (pictured above, left, with Olhanense coach Dauto Faquira).
 
Living in Portugal for five years, Chris was happy to tell us the story of how he set up the group, the growth of which shows no signs of stopping.
 

Multi-national membership

“I retired to Tavira five years ago and joined SC Olhanense as a member. Three years ago I got a few other expats to join me and we now have over 200 members, mainly British but some German, Dutch, Irish and Belgian.
 
“We even have members who live in the UK but arrange their holidays/weekend breaks to coincide with home games. We print and sell 70/80 programmes every home game and have produced a calendar and a number of pin badges. Some of us travel with our Portuguese friends all over the country supporting the team, including trips to Madeira.
 
“We go with the ‘Os gorilas’ group to most away games: we’ve been to Porto, Braga, Naval, Benfica, Sporting, Setubal, Leiria, Rio Ave, Maritimo, Boavista, Pacos de Ferreia and Academica.”
 
As well as closely following the fortunes of Olhanense, the group also organises charitable events. Earlier this year it set up a sponsored shave and raised 1200 euros for the Madeira Disaster appeal.
 
News of the group and its activities has filtered through to the national media, with articles carried in many Portuguese newspapers and magazines. It has even been the subject of TV reports on several national channels.
 

Attacking football

Getting back to the football, Chris is excited about what he has seen so far this season. “The team are playing more attacking football under Duato Faquira. We are definitely better than last season, with a more flowing style of play. Paulo Sergio has improved significantly since arriving last season and has been my man-of-the-match on several occasions.
 
“I think Lulinha will prove to be a good acquisition and Joao Gonclaves and Vinicius are ones to watch. Moretto had a good game at Sporting after a few dodgy moments in earlier games. The defence is very solid (best in the league so far, having conceded just one goal) but we need to score goals.”
 
Come what may, Olhanense can count on the support of their very own “foreign legion”. Indeed, the modest outfit have made a point of expressing their gratitude for the loyal support shown by the group.
 

Approachable Faquira

“We have a great relationship with the club who have welcomed us with open arms. Duato Faquira is very approachable and speaks good English! He always makes a point of coming over and having a chat at press conferences,” adds Wright.
 
Two decades ago Portimonense and Farense were the region’s flag-bearers rubbing shoulders with the elite of Portuguese football. Both clubs ended up relegated in the 1989/90 season. But early signs are that this time round the teams from the coastal towns of Portimao and Olhao are more than capable of holding their own.
 
In the case of Olhanense, survival in the Liga ZON Sagres will leave a considerable number of the Algarve’s sizeable population of foreign residents particularly radiant.
 
by Tom Kundert
 
 
 
 
Comments (5)
JOINING OUR GROUP
5 Thursday, 27 September 2012 21:27
Stephen. Please email me at:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
I live very near Tavira and can meet you. On Sunday 30th September Olhanense are at home to Nacional (Madeira) KO 4.00pm at the Algarve Stadium, Faro. We can probably organise a lift for you.
Olhanense
4 Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:27
how do i meet you guys to join up for home games.we have a place in tavira and travel quite often.we are glasgow based and are loyal partick thistle(Jags) fans
let me know
stephen
God, I miss Farense
3 Friday, 17 September 2010 13:51
Nice to see teams from the Algarve playing with Portugal's best. It's a region that could really thrive because of the expats and so forth. Plus all those stadiums have to be put to use on a regular basis.
More of this
2 Friday, 17 September 2010 13:46
The mid table and bottom of the table teams (meaning all those outside of the big 3) could use this kind of support. It is fantastic for Portuguese football to get more support for the smaller clubs. Currently all of the support is focused on the teams in Lisbon and Porto.

Guimaraes and Braga are an exception. They still continue to be regionally supported clubs, but they have a very fervent fan base, and respectable attendance records.

I would really love to see the rise of other regional clubs.
Great article
1 Friday, 17 September 2010 12:36
I really enjoyed reading this - it's great to hear a smaller club being embraced by the expats and growing its fan base.

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