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Bears host Mini Monsters clinics in Spain for second straight year


For the second consecutive year, the Bears traveled to Spain to host a series of Mini Monsters clinics from to help grow football in international markets and educate children on the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

The Bears hosted 13 clinics from Feb. 1-9 across four cities. They returned to Badalona, Barcelona and Madrid and made a stop in Valencia for the first time. Over 1,100 kids participated in the free 90-minute clinics, which teach the fundamentals of American football through non-contact activities.

Bears manager of youth and high school football Gustavo Silva led the program and was joined by former Bears offensive lineman Roberto Garza, who also made the trip to Spain in 2023.

"We believe that American football is the greatest team sport there is and we believe that everyone should have access to it," Silva said. "Our goal is to grow the game by making it inclusive and accessible. Once kids have access to the game and they learn the game, we're seeing that kids are falling in love with the game and want to continue to play and want to pursue participating in American football, watching American football and becoming Bears fans."

Participating in the inaugural Mini Monsters clinics in Spain was a special moment for Garza, who spent 14 seasons in the NFL, but returning in 2024 gave him an even greater sense of appreciation.

During the group's first of two clinics in Madrid, Garza reunited with a kid who also attended Mini Monsters last year.

"He was like, 'Do you remember me?' I was like, 'I do!,'" Garza said. "He said, 'I'm still playing flag football. I've gotten better. I'm playing running back and center at times too.' Being a part of this camp throughout Spain has been an amazing opportunity to grow the game, to be a part of something that the kids are going to remember.

"The kids enjoy being part of the program. They're having fun and learning flag football. The message is great — to go out there and be healthy, exercise, have fun outside with your friends, learning teamwork, learning to push each other and just go out and have fun."


While in Madrid, the Bears partnered with professional soccer club Atlético Madrid to host clinics at the Atlético Soccer Academy and unite both sports. The club also gave Garza and Bears staffers a tour of their facilities.


Along with the typical Mini Monsters clinics, the Bears also conducted a female flag football clinic with 15 players from an adult women's team – some of whom have aspirations of playing in the Olympics – as well as a pair of adult flag football coaches clinics.

"My favorite part of the tour has been seeing kids and coaches fall in love with the game and empowering new coaches with the foundation to teach the game through our Chicago Bears Flag Football clinics," Silva said. "A coach has the opportunity to impact thousands of kids, so training coaches multiplies the impact that we are making on the game."

Chicago Public Schools senior manager of elementary sports Juliana Zavala and Willowbrook High School girls flag coach Rachel Karos also made the trip.

"It was an incredible experience," Zavala said. "Knowing we are helping to expand flag football is exciting. I have seen the impact the sport has had here and can't wait to see how it continues to change lives in Spain. Many of the kids who participated in our Mini Monsters tried football for the first time, and judging by the smiles on their faces and the excitement in their voices, they are all in."

Juliana Zavala and Rachel Karos
Juliana Zavala and Rachel Karos

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