Redemptive football


Ismael had talent, but wasn’t showing up to training sessions or school, he preferred the streets. Until football gave him the stability he was looking for.

Ismael was passionate about football. From a young age he proved it on the streets of Campo Claro, an industrial neighbourhood in the west of Tarragona. Discipline wasn’t his thing unfortunately, even less in sport. When playing with his neighbourhood team he stood out in matches, but he preferred to be in the streets instead of training. This lack of commitment didn’t prevent Nàstic from giving him a chance. But his adventure didn’t last long. The best club in the city wasn’t prepared to tolerate his attitude.

“It finished due to my discipline. I only played a few games with Club Gimnàstic de Tarragona, because I wasn’t 100% committed to football. I didn’t train and I more or less did what I wanted”, recalls Ismael Pardo (Tarragona, 25/02/2000) on the same pitch where the club cut ties with him and who he still follows.

‘The wrong crowd’

As life takes many twists and turns, the forward from Tarragona has now returned to the home of Nàstic but this time playing for the opposition. His Father, José Antonio, in the stands supporting him, lives next to the stadium and doesn’t want to miss his son’s return to Tarragona. “Ismael socialised with people that had a bad influence on him, he hanged out with the wrong crowd, but in the end he was able to turn the page thanks to football. Fundación Marcet’s Draft gave him an opportunity to change his life”.

“I saw that Marcet was the best place for Ismael to make his dream come true”, José Antonio says whilst reminiscing when his son signed up for the annual trials for the High Performance Academy. It was in the spring of 2016 and Ismael ended up being the best Draft and won a scholarship to become part of Marcet’s High Performance Academy.

“We hold these types of trials to show that there are other ways of working and with suitable training sessions the performance possibilities can be exceptional”, says sports director Carlos Rivero. “The aims of the Draft is to give the chance to certain kids that are stuck or, for whatever the reason, aren’t developing correctly with their own team. It isn’t about finding the next Messi or Cristiano, but about finding players that want to make an important change in their life with hard work and determination, on an athletic level as well as a personal”.

According to Rivero, Ismael met these requirements. “It’s more and more difficult to find players with different attributes. But Ismael showed us something that a lot of footballers don’t have, a natural talent and his acceleration was phenomenal… What he was missing was a training schedule that could bring out the best of his qualities”.

Going back to Tarragona to play against Nàstic was the cherry on top of the cake for Ismael after an intensive year of football training that has given him the chance to play against some of the best clubs in Spain. “I used to play against clubs that nobody knew and this year I’ve had the chance to play against Atlético de Madrid, Getafe, Rayo Vallecano, Oviedo, Zaragoza… It has been a huge change, it has been exciting and a dream come true”.

But the most important thing has been his change at a personal level. “We’ve seen great progression in Ismael, especially in his maturity”, points out the father of the forward, who believes that this transformation has been “very good” for his son not only as a footballer “but also as a person”.

Ismael’s first weeks at Marcet’s sports club weren’t the easiest. There were moments of conflict, because he had to get used to an athletic routine and to a new academic discipline. “The first two or three months were hard. The change was a huge one and everything was twice as difficult, as in Tarragona I was used to doing nothing at all. At times I wouldn’t even go to school, and here I train and study every single day”, says Ismael on the ground where he is about to start the match against ‘his’ Nàstic. “If I had continued here I would have never of gotten out bed at 7 am to train”.


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