Do you feel that when assessing the progress of women’s sport, only the progress of women’s football is taken into account?
— Barça and women’s football are now giving visibility to women’s sport, but those of us who have been in the fight for many years want to make it clear that this is not just football. There are many sports, such as water polo, swimming, synchronized swimming or handball, that we accumulate many years of struggle so that we are recognized and people want to see us and talk about women’s sports.
Have you seen an evolution in the visibility of women’s water polo since you won the first Champions in 2011 until now, that you have won the sixth?
— Yes, it can be seen in the number of girls who want to be water polo players, who want to be like us. Since our first Champions, women’s water polo has grown, starting from the grassroots. Now there are teams of water schools and benjamins that are made up only of girls, a fact that was unthinkable before. Meanwhile, during this time, we have achieved many successes with the club and the Spanish national team.
Has the sixth made you the same illusion as the first?
— They are different illusions. The first was that of inexperience, as it was the first time Club Natació Sabadell reached the final four. We were very excited, but we didn’t know what could happen. On the other hand, we reached the latter having played in many four-a-side finals and having won five Champions Leagues. But being able to enjoy the Champions League again at home in a magnificent setting because the stands were divided between the Mataró fans and ours was very nice. The competition of the Mataró means that people now value our achievements more.
After winning this Champions League, some teammates, the club and yourself expressed on social networks the disappointment that the sports media did not cover your feat. Do you think that if you called yourself Barça instead of Sabadell, things would be different?
— I had never considered it, but it could be. I always say: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? We don’t talk about minority sports because they don’t sell or don’t minority sports sell because they don’t talk about them? And then the Olympic Games arrive and we are told that we are favourites. How do they know? Because they looked at the record at one point and saw our successes in recent years. Not because they have followed us during this time. We live in a society that is only interested in football because for many years only football has been talked about and we have been educated that way.
You are now 33 years old. Do you see yourself playing many more?
— There comes a time when you know you don’t have 20 years of water polo left, that there are fewer and fewer left. I don’t know if I have one, two or more years left. What I do know is that every year I enjoy the club and national team competitions as if it were the last. You may be very excited to keep playing, but your body may say enough or the coaches may not count on you. The illusion is not lost. If I ever lose her that will be the time I retire.
It is always said that a goalkeeper has a way of being different from the rest of the players. Is this also the case in your case?
— Goalkeepers must be different because usually what people want is to score goals. And what you do is the opposite. You stand between three posts for people to throw balls at you. Is that really what you want? You have to be special to want to be a goalkeeper and enjoy this condition.
Did you choose to be a goalkeeper?
— I think that at first most of the goalkeepers put us in the goal without choosing it. It happened to me when I started, in the Mediterranean. A trainer saw me and told me I had something. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be there. It was a team made up entirely of 12- and 13-year-old girls, and at the time many of us didn’t even know what water polo was. We always competed against children because there was only a female category in the juniors and juniors and we got beaten a lot. But little by little we got better and played against other girls’ teams, and I enjoyed being a goalkeeper more and more.
“It’s been a long time since women’s water polo started getting paid. Nowadays, girls don’t appreciate it” ”
Laura Ester Gatekeeper of CN Sabadell
Since you debuted in the First Division with Mediterrani, have you always been able to live financially from water polo?
— At that time we practically did not charge. It has started charging nothing. Girls today don’t value that. When I was 17 or 18, I paid to play. And today there are still First Division clubs that can pay almost nothing to the players. There are only five counted who make the effort to maintain a professional team. I can live from water polo thanks to the salary of the club and the aid of the ADO scholarship, but I know that once I stop playing I will have to work whether or not.
Are you dreading the day after withdrawal?
— I don’t know if it’s fear or the doubt of knowing whether you’ll be fine or not. For many years we have known what we have the next day: training in the morning and in the afternoon. For many years you have given your life to water polo, giving up doing many other things. And there comes a time when all this ends and you have to start working in a very different environment (he has a degree in biochemistry) from what you are used to and alongside people who have been working there for many years. In addition, you come from a world in which you were one of the best and you will enter another where you will be one more. Friends who have already left say that what they miss most is the changing room and the adrenaline of the competition.