Irene Paredes: “Winning helped us silence many of the mouths that we have had to put up with†| Soccer | Sports

Irene Paredes: “Winning helped us silence many of the mouths that we have had to put up with†|  Soccer |  Sports

Born on July 4, Irene Paredes (Legazpi, Gipuzkoa, 32 years old), Barcelona player, captain of the national team and one of the veterans of the team that in August 2023 won the first Women’s World Cup in soccer for Spain has not lost a bit of intensity. Not even conviction. Or trust. After winning in Australia and New Zealand and making their demands global after former president Rubiales kissed soccer player Jenni Hermoso, the national team players are now seeking their second title, this continental one. The Nations League is in its final phase: four teams, two semi-finals and a final. It is played in Seville, where this Friday (at 9:00 p.m., La1) the Netherlands awaits them.

A few days before this first key match, also to obtain a place in the Paris Games, Paredes sits down to talk as soon as she finishes training with her teammates in Las Rozas. And 15 minutes later she runs out, (long) legs why do I love you, pressed by lunchtime and by the fine with which the late ones (or the busy ones) are threatened – 50 euros, and the grief increases with every minute that passes―; She returns after an hour, still dressed in shorts, with the ponytail and the ribbon to keep her hair out of her face. She is frozen. But she smiles in the February sun. And she is armed with patience. There are no more fines. And the 15 minutes of talk have passed. She has clear ideas and is fluent in words. She has lived through the best and worst days of Spanish football played by women. She has gone from having little more than a ball to generating global expectations.

Paredes was league champion with Athletic, in 2016, before yesterday, when no one knew them. She has good memories from then, of the “top people†she met, “those people who are difficult to find in life, at work.†But he doesn’t miss those times. “We have improved. The League has gotten better, the clubs, the footballer’s conditions have gotten better.†Many, like her, have realized how much there was left to improve in Spain by going abroad, Paris, in her case. “What shocked me the most was the physical aspect. The French is a very physical league. I also realized that a lot could be improved at the club level, although in other countries the situation of women footballers is similar to that of Spain. There is a lot to do, also from the point of view of infrastructure, laws, agreements… All countries must improve the conditions in which female footballers work and compete so that the leagues grow,’ he says.

It is not worth saying that we are not profitable if nothing is done to make us so.

The F League and the footballers are concerned about making football played by women a profitable investment. And they know it’s time. “In Barcelona it has been achieved. Obviously, you have to make an initial investment, but if you have the right people working for the women’s section, that ends up happening. It is not enough to say that we are not profitable, that when there is a problem we are taken out of the way, and that nothing is done to make us profitable. Not like that,’ he says.

It is unclear, however, whether Barcelona’s dominance in the F League will do football any good. “It’s not good for us players. Because in many games we find that we do not have that difficulty that makes you improve,†Paredes assumes. “On the other hand, I think it is good, because then all the teams have someone to look at. Many people make comments to us: ‘But don’t you get bored? What a job.’ And no, what a job, no. The problem lies with the rest of the clubs that neither bet nor do anything to improve their women’s section. There are still teams in very precarious situations and this cannot be allowed today.

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Irene Paredes knows a lot about zero tolerance. She arrived at the senior team when the locker room was suffering from Ignacio Quereda screwed to the coach’s bench. In those rallies there were insults, humiliation and mistreatment. she “It was a locker room that had the same illusion as the ones that are there now. She said that she only wanted to dedicate herself to soccer and she couldn’t. There was no way to be calm playing. We couldn’t even stay in Football City, because we had to sleep outside. Simply because we were women we were not allowed to sleep in the residence. Those players are people with a lot of ability, with a lot of talent, who were simply born in a time when nothing was given to them to dedicate themselves to soccer. I have contact with many of them and it makes me sad that they are not living this and that they have not enjoyed it,†she laments. Because some of those, due to their age, would have been active today, like Vero Boquete, Vicky Losada, Marta Torrejón… But they left because they couldn’t stand it. “Some were my age or even younger, but they did not continue because it was unsustainable. There has always been a lot of desire and talent,†she points out. She is a survivor of that team, along with Alexia Putellas and Jenni Hermoso, the heart of today’s team, the hard core that, after starting in soccer with Quereda, raised her voice against former coach Jorge Vilda. Everything is tanned, the captain assumes. “Then there is your way of understanding things, your concerns, your objectives, but I want to think that experiencing that helped me. I would have liked it if from the first moment we had had the human and material resources to dedicate ourselves solely to football. But it has not been like that, that is why we have been doing what we could.

Irene Paredes poses in Las Rozas after the interview. INMA FLORES

And what they were able to do ended up being a revolution that shook the foundations of the Spanish federation and reached a global dimension with #seacabó. Paredes, an INEF student and trained in Emotional Intelligence, was, according to her classmates, key in the group’s social awakening. Although she says she didn’t have to do much awareness work. “Her wardrobe made it clear right away. It helps if you have knowledge and have had contact with different people; Studies help you open your mind, to know, it also depends on the values ​​you have, on how you were raised at home. And, luckily, those of us who agreed were very clear that this could not be missed.†.

Many did not understand (or did not want to understand) their demands from what was known as the 15 o’clock crisis to the Rubiales crisis. Today they finally have the basic tools to work comfortably and under conditions. “We transferred everything that was needed to the federation. There are things that take more time. There are new people who have entered to improve the section too [como Markel Zubizarreta, nuevo director de fútbol]. There are elections soon, and we understand that they are going to be a few months of many changes. The people who didn’t want to understand it at that moment will continue not to understand it. But we have only demanded to be able to carry out our work and professional discipline with everything that that encompasses. And within those things there are many details and for those many details there are many people in the federation and we trust that they will be given.

Many times we are still amazed that we are world champions

After the storm passed, it was difficult for them to enjoy what they achieved last summer. “Many times we continue to be amazed that we are world champions, also that we have not been able to enjoy it. But, we see the star every day on our chest and that makes us proud. We focus looking to the future. We hope to be able to extend this legacy.” The path they are trying to complete these days began in September, in the midst of the revolution. They traveled to Gothenburg without having barely slept more than four hours in recent weeks. And they beat Sweden (2-3). “It was a liberation to win that game. Play it, not so much. The performance we gave was very good; The body of each player was able to perform, I don’t know very well how: the conditions were not the best. And we didn’t realize until the end of the game how important it was to win to silence many of the mouths and voices that we had to put up with.

This Friday they have another magnificent opportunity in the Nations League. They fight to be in the Games and to play in another final, next Wednesday. They are also a better team, especially without the ball. “During the World Cup we also had learning. None of us forget the defeat against Japan. And the different situations that were given to us and that we managed very well. Today the team is more mature. Furthermore, winning a World Cup and against powerful teams gives you security. You’ve done it once, you know you’re capable of doing it again. That confidence is there.†And they live on it these days. Of his professionalism and his talent, too. Now that, finally, they can only think about the ball.

Paredes plays with the ball. INMA FLORES

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2024-02-22 11:57:22
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