Javier Urruticoechea with the Sahrawi supporters club (1997) | ARCHIVE FCB

On 12 October 1997, a very special FC Barcelona Supporters Club was founded. It was not like the others. Its founding members were living in tents, huge tents exposed to the sirocco of the Sahara desert. They were Sahwari refugees who were assigned to the Polisario Front that fought for the independence of its country, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. They were living in precarious conditions in the south of Algeria, in the Mahbes refugee camp, but despite their extreme difficulties always felt the blaugrana colours as their own.

That day, Barça directors Jaume Sobrequés and Miquel Esquirol, and former goalkeeper Javier Urruticoechea, represented FC Barcelona at the inauguration event of the new supporters club. They were also members of the Catalan Association of Friends of Poble Sahraui, who funded the construction of a maternal and child hospital named Catalunya. The new penya celebrated its creation with a football match between various refugees. The much-missed Urruti suffered at the feet of many players, who were playing barefoot in a field full of desert sand and stone. At the end of the game, everybody sung the Barça hymn (Cant del Barça).