“We accompany athletes in their great goals”

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“We accompany athletes in their great goals”

From August 28 to September 8 Paris will show his best clothes with Paralympic Games, the most important sporting event, whose relevance goes beyond sports. The Paris Paralympic Games – so far 95 Spaniards have qualified in 12 sports – are more than a great sporting event, they are the best spokespeople to focus global attention on Paralympic sport, to show the innovative and inspiring potential this. To discuss the reality and challenges of Spanish Paralympic sport, MD and CaixaBank organized a colloquium attended by Miguel Carballeda, president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee; Alberto Jofre, Managing Director of the Spanish Paralympic Committee; Iñigo Roy, director of Communication and Sponsorship Strategy at CaixaBank; Jaume Marcé, swimming coach of the Spanish Paralympic Committee in the CAR of Sant Cugat; Núria Marqués, Paralympic swimmer and Alejandro Díaz, Paralympic table tennis player.

The Games are the ultimate aspiration of a Paralympic athlete. A sporting event that generates great interest and its relevance moves sports, because of the stories of the improvement of its main characters. Spain is a powerhouse in Paralympic sport. Teresa Perales could be the world’s most successful Olympic and Paralympic athlete in Paris, and the Spanish Paralympic Committee hoping to surpass the 36 medals of Tokyo 2020. Now, what is the reality of Spanish Paralympic sport? Do athletes have enough resources? Is the exchange of referents guaranteed?

The Games, the great event

Núria Marques: “We have done a great job this year and in the European Championship I got close to my best times. “I am looking forward to going to Paris and, within healthy competition, defeating my rivals.”

Miguel Carballeda: “Our goal is to serve the athletes in the best conditions so that they can achieve their goals in Paris. We are lucky to have the support of companies like CaixaBank. This work is done with the support of the public and private sectors, and 90% of our budget comes from the private sector and 10% from the public. We work to make athletes’ dreams come true.”

Alberto Jofre: “We’re trying to provide a way for athletes to achieve their success.”

Alejandro Diaz: “For me, being in Paris is almost impossible, I entered CAR two years ago. With sacrifice and perseverance I achieved this, I reached the dream of every athlete, to go to the Games.”

Inigo Roy: “In 2019 we started working with the Spanish Paralympic Committee. For us it is a fantastic workplace, closely related to our values. Through ADOP scholarships, we make athletes’ careers possible of the Paralympic and, in addition, we are making our own initiatives to know their stories.”

Jaume Marcé: “I want to thank the Paralympic Committee. Previously, the athlete had almost no help and was able to get basic sponsorships. Athletes can maintain their performance for years, before they stop at age 18 or 19, they need to earn a living. As a coach, I strive to make athletes the best they can be.

The resources

MC “We are the difficult Committee and I wish it was different, but it attracts a series of fellow travelers (sponsors) who come because they believe that our sport is different, it speaks of the overcoming of people with disability.”

GO. “We want to carry out projects, give them visibility, so that society knows and wants to follow Paralympic sport. “We are committed to activating sponsorships and disseminating them.”

A.J “Society is starting to follow and admire the Paralympic athletes. CaixaBank does a great job. They make the athletes known, create heroes and make children see themselves in the athletes, want to improve their themselves and see that their disability should not prevent them from becoming champions. Our athletes are twice as valuable because they win twice, when they overcome their disability and when they succeed.”

NM “The more they get to know you and you’re on the podium, the more resources are given to you. When Paralympic athletes introduce ourselves, we show the truth to children and their parents, that they see that it is possible, that they have a disability but they can train and reach the championships.

JM “Back then, Paralympic sport had a more social or therapeutic aspect. There were no professional structures, the strength of today. Athletes need visibility and when companies recognize them they will see that they are attractive .At first when an athlete came to CAR it caused a surprise, now everyone has a name. Our product is attractive, but we can get more from it.

A.D. “Since I started I have competed with strong people and I have had no problems. No one sets limits for you, you set them for yourself.”

Make references

NM “We are working to be better and entertaining to help children and their parents change their thinking and see that their children can reach elite sports. It is about normalizing Paralympic sport. I’m glad to see that disabled and non-disabled kids are taking notice of us.”

A.D. “I realized that I am a role model for children. If they follow you and stick to what you explain to them, you are doing it right.

A.J “The evolution has been amazing. 15 years ago there were no athletes in a high performance center. Paralympic athletes are starting to become social leaders. We represent 10% of society, more than 4 million people.

GO. “It’s about breaking stereotypes like that paralympic sport isn’t interesting or doesn’t have visibility. That an athlete is fighting for a medal and more than that there’s a story behind it that makes it more attractive- he’s attracted.”

Make the base

A.J “We had an older team, with good athletes, and we had a major problem and we were able to recover the youth team. There is a surprising fact. 7% of the Spanish population has a sports license, in handicap it is only 0.33%. “There are obstacles that prevent this practice.”

MC “We have two actions in the Committee that are working. On the one hand, we recruit children and future Paralympic pledges in autonomous communities and we create divisions of pledges. Very young athletes who started out as promises in several sports are now going to Paris and with the push of these companies we are doing the work to make that relay possible.” NM. “We must continue working on the foundation, encouraging children to enjoy sports. It is important and basic.”

JM “On a technical level, there is a lack of economic and logistical resources. Facilities are also lacking.”

A.D. “There are families who cannot afford to bring their children to play sports, depending on city councils and mayors to allocate money for children with disabilities and thus make a commitment.”

GO“And companies must understand the purpose of cooperation and undertake projects that go beyond sponsorship itself. “The Paralympic Promises program is a good example.”

The emotional part

NM “You have to work on a psychological level to maintain high performance throughout your sports life. You have to know how to manage emotions. The head is everything, almost 80%. Everything depends a lot on the head and if you feel acknowledged or supported it always makes it more bearable.”

JM “I try to make sure that the comprehensive training of my swimmers is as high as possible. We athletes need to properly manage their daily emotions. At CAR we have athletic care departments. We are trying to make him feel supported.”

AJ “The athlete must be seen as a whole, and psychology and mental health have a very important role in that. If the athlete is in a period of stress, help should be sought. When they finish their career there is a very important job and next to us the athletes. Of those who went to Tokyo, only two are left to enter the labor market.”

GO “We are already thinking about after the Games and one of the subjects that interests us is the maintenance of athletes’ careers in the long term, combining their career with what they decide to do in their professional alive.”

MC “There are Paralympic athletes who have finished their sporting careers and are working in companies with good results. I recommend companies to pay attention to these athletes. There is a lot of human potential there. If I were a businessman, I would take them, and that’s why we train them, because sports life is short.”

Source: La Verdad

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