WHEN Jaume Pijoan visited his hometown of Barcelona earlier this year, he returned with an idea that’s about to sweep through children’s football clubs across the U.K.
On Saturday, Rose Hill Junior Football Club, a small team in Stockport with kids from U7 to U17, will be the first club in England to launch their own version of the Panini sticker album.
10 Rose Hill FC are the first childrens' football club in England to have a sticker album
Packets of stickers, created by Spanish company Cromogal, will be available to buy from shops around the town—and co-chairman Pijoan believes the club can raise £2,500.
The 41-year-old told SunSport: “I went to see my family in Easter and my nephew was there with some football stickers.
“Initially, I thought it was for La Liga or the World Cup, but he said they came from his club.”
Cromogal, based in north-west Spain, launched in 2012 and their product soon spread across the nation. More than 350 local Spanish clubs have taken part.
10 Emma Powell, Jaume Pijoan and Emily Porter who organised the album
10 Pijoan believes the album will raise £2,500 for the club
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Cromogal has moved into Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Ireland since then, with two more English clubs set to launch before the new year.
And while football may be the majority of Cromogal’s work, they also produce stickers for basketball, rugby, handball, cycling and even chess teams.
Manuel Portela, the company’s sales manager, explained how the craze began.
He told SunSport: “As you can imagine, the first customers were from the surrounding area.
Alamy10 Cromogal allows kids' clubs to be like professionals in the Panini album
“We have been like a stone in the water with wave after wave, and from that moment to now there is no part of Spain we don’t work in.”
Pijoan, whose two sons Alex, 11, and James, 8, play for Rose Hill, got in touch with the company and was surprised by what he was told.
“It’s totally free and you can raise money through advertising and selling stickers. I thought it sounded too goo to be true,” he said.
“I spoke to the company and they explained the process, that we don’t pay any money until we sell packs of stickers and then part of that cash goes to them.”
Cromogal cover the cost of photography, printing and shipping.
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10 The album is released on Saturday and two other English clubs will follow in December
AFP or licensors10 Panini stickers are all the rave during World Cup tournaments
The stickers show every player who signs up—only two from 250 at Rose Hill chose not to—in an action pose with an inset profile shot, their name and age group.
Unlike Panini and Match Attax, there are no ratings or positions.
“We don’t have positions because the Manchester Respect League encourages not having set positions for players,” Pijoan explained.
10 Rose Hill U12s team which will appear in their album
“The ethos of the club is to create the total player rather than just a striker or defender.
“All the stickers have been printed the same number of times, so it’s not like Match Attax or Panini where you have one like, for example, Sergio Aguero who’s printed less times.”
Rose Hill have already raised £1,600 through advertising in the album which will also contain a message from the club chairman and a team photo for each age group.
Their target is £2,000 but Pijoan believes they can reach £2,500. “For a club like ours, that is massive,” he said.
“It can help provide training equipment and will be huge for grassroots football. It will gives every child a chance to play for Rose Hill.”
10 Pijoan's son Alex is one of the first junior players in England to have a sticker
10 Stig Machin is co-chairman alongside Jaume Pijoan
Each player will be presented with their own album and a pack of stickers on Saturday as part of the launch, and anticipation has been building ever since the idea was approved.
“Everyone is really excited,”Pijoan said. “It’s great to be the first club in England to do it because we’re only very small and in a very small village.
“Most of the kids go to the same primary school so when they’re getting dropped off and picked up everyone is asking about when it’s going to come out.
10 Each player is shown in an action pose and profile shot
“If they had a choice over Match Attax or Rose Hill stickers now, 100 percent they would want Rose Hill.”
Rose Hill will be the envy of other teams, and Pijoan expects the craze to spread.
“It will snowball,” he said. “First season you have one or two teams and then loads of clubs get involved. They hear about it, see it and want to do it.
“I think it will be massive.”