Champions, together: A golden friendship in VCF Femenino B


Usually a picture of intense focus during matches, Irune Cervera broke into a smile for a short moment. Barring a catastrophe, the elegant centre-back knew the job was done: VCF Femenino B, Valencia’s female reserve team, would win the Primera Nacional Champions Group 7 league.

Up 4-2 in the 83rd minute of their penultimate game against Mislata CF in April, and 6 points ahead of their nearest challengers, they were almost there.

But there was another reason for Cervera’s joy as she glanced at the touchline. Waiting to come on was her close friend Nuria Morell. Having been out of action with a serious knee injury since February 2021, the right-back was finally ready for her first competitive minutes of the season – after more than 400 days.

Cervera marked the occasion by removing her captain’s armband and putting it on Morell, to the warm applause of those on and off the field. Just 3 minutes later, their team would add a 5th goal and be crowned champions, sparking rampant celebrations.  

The league title secured promotion and vindicated the team’s sacrifice and hard work, in the words of Cervera. But this was also about so much more. Her gesture to welcome Morell back to the fold signified the unbreakable bonds within the team.

The championship also represented a club united as one: This was the first season the women’s academy was training at Ciudad Deportiva de Paterna, where the men’s first-team and male academy players honed their skills. Before, only the women’s first-team squad played at Paterna.

“We have all the facilities here in a professional setting,” said Cervera. “It is like a united family.”

That sense of kinship is best exemplified by Cervera and Morell, both 19, who have been inseparable for the past 8 years. Their close friendship has been forged on and off the football field, having come through the ranks together and travelled to and from training almost every day as they live near each other.

Cervera and Morell taking a trip down memory lane during the title celebrations.

Cervera still recalls the day Morell was ruled out with her injury. “I told her to be calm and to do what she knows to do,” said the semi-professional footballer, also a business student at a tertiary institution. Each day is gruelling – classes from 8am to 2pm, then training from 4pm.

But achievements like the title justify the grind, and to ambitious youngsters like Cervera, are another rung in the ladder. “Being promoted is being a step closer to a professional league,” she said. “Next year, we will prepare with the same ambition and resolution to get promoted again.”

Through the 26-game season, the Feminino B captain was a crucial, calming presence at the back with her intelligence and ball-playing ability. While not the tallest, she is commanding on the pitch with her marshalling skills, bellowing both instruction and encouragement to her teammates.

Her most telling contribution was a goal against fellow title contenders Levante UD B last November. The derby game, played away from the comforts of Paterna, ended 2-1 to Valencia. Cervera opened the scoring in minute 22, knocking the ball in from a corner with her thigh and setting the visitors on the path to the title. “From that moment in the season, the team were stronger,” she said of the win that opened up a 4-point gap.

On a personal level, Cervera made her first-team debut against Real Sociedad in January, crowning her 9th season at the club. “I was very emotional,” she said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little girl.”  

Fuelled by friendship and her competitive fire, Cervera looks set to continue to do the Valencia badge proud.

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