#NosotrasTambienJugamos: “Vero Boquete really opened doors for us!”
Women’s Soccer United’s Spain-based reporter Nick Aitken caught up with María Vázquez who, alongside her colleagues Mariángeles López and Iñigo Benedicto, are the driving forces behind the Nosotras También Jugamos (We Play Too) campaign.
The tireless trio’s aim is to convince Panini to commercialise a sticker album featuring the players in Spain’s Liga Iberdrola, with María speaking exclusively to Women’s Soccer United about their goal, the backing they’ve had from players past and present, and the obstacles in their path.
Women’s Soccer United: First of all, congratulations on all your hard work so far on the Nosotras También Jugamos campaign. Could you sum up your objectives and the main stumbling blocks towards getting there?
Mária Vázquez: Thanks! Our objective is to get women’s footballers [from Spain’s Liga Iberdrola] into a sticker album, something we think is very simple but which could be a great lesson on equality for both girls and boys. It would teach children in one easy step that men and women are capable of doing the same things, that there aren’t sports which are just for boys or just for girls.
Our goal would be for the players to have their own album or, alternatively, have two or three women’s players from each team added to the current Panini [men’s Liga] album. Not that we have a particular preference for which company carries out the project, but given Panini sticker albums are market leaders they would be excellent for bringing about the visibility women’s footballers need.
In the end though, what will make this album possible or not is going to come down to whether the two institutions that are directly linked to women’s football [the Spanish FA (RFEF) and the Professional Football League (LFP)] can come to an agreement. Right now there’s a conflict of interests and a ‘war’ between these two organisations. One of them controls the players’ image rights and the other the league competition itself. There needs to be an agreement between everybody: players, clubs, the RFEF, [league sponsors] Iberdrola and the LFP. We think that it’s just a question of ‘wanting’ to find common ground, as an agreement would be beneficial for everyone.
WSU: How important has it been to have joined forces with Mariángeles and Iñigo? Does the fact that there’s now three of you help when it comes to motivating each other, exchanging ideas, sharing the burden etc?
MV: It’s been very important – we make a great team! We complement each other very well and we know how to make the most of our individual strengths. The creative side usually comes from me, while Iñigo is great at coming up with ideas and knows how to get us in front of the right people. Mariángeles is the one who’s been following women’s football for longest, as President of a Levante Femenino supporters’ club, and it’s her who explains to us the reasons behind certain things.
What’s more, like you say, when it comes to supporting & motivating each other, it’s very positive having the three of us working together, particularly in those moments when one of us starts to lose a bit of faith. But when we look at how much we’ve achieved, relying on nothing else but our own hard work and willpower, I think that we can be very satisfied.
WSU: With this being a World Cup year – and with a strong Selección as contenders – do you think this tournament could prove a turning point for women’s football in Spain?
MV: We hope so! To get there though, there’s a lot of work to do to get the media to give La Selección the visibility it merits. For example, the Algarve Cup was held not long ago and the RFEF didn’t broadcast any of Spain’s games, not even via streaming, which is such an easy way to make it available – even when broadcasters won’t make room in the TV schedules.
We hope that the increase and the spread of interest in women’s sport generally and in football in particular – just look at the recent world-record club attendance of over 60,000 between Atlético de Madrid & Barcelona – doesn’t end up just being a one-off happening and that organisations, institutions, media and brands really give the sport their full backing.
WSU: I’ve seen on social media that you’ve had support from a host of players, from many different teams. Who has been particularly helpful when it comes to supporting you?
MV: To tell the truth, everyone who we asked to appear in the video helped us as soon as we asked. I don’t want to leave anyone out, though I would like to give a special mention to Vero Boquete, who was the one who helped to “open doors” for us and our campaign. The fact that footballers appeared in the video, and that Vero Boquete was the one saying what it is we were aiming for, helped us be taken that much more seriously.
We started off by talking to Vero, who was in China at the time, and she sent us the videos that we asked for in order to make the initial slideshow for #NosotrasTambienJugamos. From then on, the likes of Jade Boho, Jenni Morilla, Nahikari García, Laura del Río, Ana Romero, Sandra Ramajo, Natalia Ramos, María José Pérez, Aintzane Encinas… all came on board; current players, former players and players-turned-coaches.
The fact that the players back us gives us credibility. What we wanted to avoid was anyone thinking we were spamming them or that we were trying to sell something, because we genuinely aren’t. We’re just three families fighting for something that we believe is fair – for female players, for our daughters and for society as a whole to be honest.
WSU: One last question, how far can you go with #NosotrasTambienJugamos? Once you get the Panini album, do you have other objectives in mind?
MV: It’s tricky as once again there’s an atmosphere of tension between the organisations I mentioned before, and we realise that getting them all to find common ground is going to be complicated. We would urge them not to think about themselves and instead about the good of the women’s game.
There’s a tendency to think about the big things, the major events and activities, and I think that they really don’t understand that small actions like ours make a big contribution – and they can achieve much more in a simpler way. And, in answer to the last part of your question, once we get the album, I’m not sure what our next adventure will be!
Spanish version: #NosotrasTambienJugamos: “Vero Boquete nos abrió las puertas”
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