After a practice, players at the National First Down School huddle excitedly around an American reporter, who wants to know why they like American football.

"It combines intelligence and strength," says Jordi Rodriguez, who played quarterback this day. "In soccer, there's not a lot of strength."

"The strategy is more important" than in soccer, adds Carlos Garcia de Castro, a wide receiver.

Does anyone want to play in the National Football League? All the hands go up. "It's not a wish," says linebacker Gabriel Ribera. "It's a dream."

It's an expensive dream, too: It costs 70,000 pesetas (about $700) to outfit one of these youngsters. But the school (really a club), doesn't lack for interest. It has 60 players, ages 13 to 17.

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