The journey of the former Barcelona coach Islam in Saudi Arabia

Jordi Martinez Rolda’s life (Barcelona, ​​1991) changed in 2015 when he left with two other teammates to open the first FCB Escola in Saudi Arabia. A lot has happened since then, including a pandemic that forced him to stay in Arabia for 11 months.

He no longer works with Barcelona, ​​but the coach is happy to live in Al-Ahsa, 300 kilometers from Riyadh, as Al-Fateh’s technical director. He remains in touch with football and enjoys and suffers equally from watching the Blaugrana team and is responsible for promoting and developing the talents of youngsters who wish to devote themselves to professional football. A type of diamond in Saudi Arabia. “I intend to live here,” Martinez told the newspaper while speaking briefly in Arabic to a club employee.

He has learned the language scientifically with the help of some books and he also dares to write. “I understand it and practice it with my friends here and I already know how to write the entire alphabet,” he slips. As for religion, he decided to convert to Islam in 2017. A year later, he traveled to Mecca.

In the Arabian Peninsula

Martínez Rulduà learned to speak Arabic in a scientific way and practiced it with his friends

Jordi’s steps into the world of football come from afar. The 30-year-old was born in the Catalan capital and lived until the age of 24 in the central neighborhood of Les Corts, very close to the Camp Nou stadium where he went with his father to watch Barcelona matches. The King of Sports has always been his passion, he played in FCB Escola and then began his bench trials in bench drills in the lower classes of Europe.

Later he joined Barcelona and began to participate in the organization of national and international universities from Morocco to the United States. “In 2015 I was selected as technical director to go to Saudi Arabia and we opened the first FCB Escola. We started the project in Riyadh and expanded. In 2017 we opened another school in Dammam in the east of the country. I stayed there until June 2018 because Barcelona did not reach an agreement to renew the project,” So said the coach, who bid farewell to the island for a moment. Always associated with Barcelona, ​​his steps led him to join the club’s school projects which opened in Dubai and Kuwait. But the pandemic has ended up severing the plans of many international projects.

I went to the Arabian Peninsula on a leisure trip. I planned to stay 3 or 4 days and in the end, since you can’t leave, it was 11 months”



Jordi Martinez RoldoAl Fateh Technical Director

“I went to Arabia for a leisure trip. I planned to stay 3 or 4 days, and in the end, since I could not leave, it lasted 11 months,” says Jordi, during which time he reached an agreement with the Conqueror. “I have had six months and I am very happy. It is a very professional club with about 250 players at the base without the first team. There is a lot of talent in Arabia, although it is true that culture has a huge impact on the development of footballers, starting from the grades of The high heat for a good part of the year, and the food plus the little leisure that’s been there so far,” he adds.


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Culturally, Jordi was very influential in his early stage. “I arrived on December 27, 2015. Everything was completely different. Now the country is more open to tourism and foreigners coming here. Culturally, there is a huge influence especially for those who come from the West. It is a matter of taste, like it or not, but it is difficult Finding an intermediate point”, segments. Jordi is one of the first.

The technician read the Qur’an and took a year of reflection before deciding to convert to Islam.

In his first year, he read a lot about religion, Islam and its culture. “There are two aspects that are often confused,” he says. A friend of the Quran gave him a gift and he started reading it. He felt a relationship. He had a thinking period of a year before he made the move. Now he practices the religion like any other Muslim. “If I don’t, I feel bad. There is a great instinct for responsibility,” he slides.

Converting wasn’t an easy decision for Jordi, especially at first. Now, four years later, he has already overcome that stage of uncertainty and acceptance of the environment. “When they told me to come, I thought: It would only take two years, and here I am,” said the coach, who is switching careers to study a master’s degree in sports management in English taught by the Johan Cruyff Institute. Another link with his life club.

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