The idea of having a game in Boise featuring a Basque soccer team may have been mentioned here and there on both sides of the Atlantic, but the true genesis of the Basque Soccer Friendly came during a meal to honor former Secretary of State (and the key donor that got Boise State’s Basque Studies Program started) Pete Cenarrusa at Jaialdi 2010. The food was wonderful, the company even better and the wine was flowing. City of Boise’s Mayor Dave Bieter and Jose Luis Bilbao — the Provincial Deputy (Governor) of Bizkaia, the province from which the majority of Basque emigrants in Idaho came from — and other political leaders were all grinning from ear to ear with excitement about the idea of having a Basque soccer team come to play in Boise.
The idea sat dormant for nearly three years but it resonated too deeply to not explore so in April of 2013 Dr. John Bieter and Dr. Dave Lachiondo, professors at Boise State University and Directors of the Basque Studies program, decided to meet with two employees of Basque ancestry in Boise State athletics – Brad Larrondo and Anita Guericabeitia – to explore this idea. With their support and encouragement and John and Dave continued to meet with just about anyone willing to listen to and help advance this idea. They soon realized that they would need someone with exceptional organizational skills for the enormous task of all of the logistical and administrative details. It’s as if the gods heard their wishes and thankfully sent their “secret weapon” from Washington, DC. to Boise in June 2013. In fact, even before her furniture arrived to her home in the North End, her phone rang and it was Dave Lachiondo calling to see if she would be willing to work on this project. As an avid Athletic Bilbao fan since birth and supporter of local soccer, Argia Beristain agreed to be a co-director and has worked tirelessly ever since. She and John Bieter began a series of sponsorship and donor meetings trying to raise the necessary funds to make the game possible. This two year effort had the many ups and downs that nearly all start up efforts endure but with the very generous support of the province of Bizkaia coupled with all of the many sponsors and donors in the Treasure Valley and beyond, we reached our required goal and were able to announce the game.
The third of the three co-directors, Bill Taylor, came on board in the early days of organizing for the game. John Bieter and Argia Beristain realized the benefits of engaging the enthusiastic soccer community in Idaho and thankfully they also saw the advantages of promoting the game itself through this effort. Dr. Bill Taylor, President of the Idaho Youth Soccer Association, along with Craig Warner their Executive Director agreed to support and publicize this event. Bill worked extremely hard to negotiate and secure the opponent for Athletic Bilbao and we are very appreciative of his efforts.
Together, the Basque Studies Foundation with the Idaho Youth Soccer Association along with the many sponsors, donors and volunteers have come together to put on the largest soccer event in the state of Idaho and one of the largest sporting events ever held in the state.
Thank you for your interest in the Basque Soccer Friendly and we hope to see you at the game!
Argia Beristain, John Bieter and Bill Taylor
Directors of the Basque Soccer Friendly