Eva Aguirre: “It’s important to enhance women’s rugby and give it the value and importance it deserves”

May 7, 2024

Eva Aguirre: “Es importante potenciar el rugby femenino, darle el valor y la importancia que merece”

Eva Aguirre, a player on the Spanish Women’s Rugby Team and winner of The Cruyff Athlete Fund scholarship, reviews her career and emphasizes the need to value women’s rugby as it deserves

At 29 years old, Eva Aguirre has a remarkable career in professional rugby. Among her achievements is being crowned three-time European champion in Rugby XV and two-time winner of the Liga Iberdrola in Spain. In an interview conducted by Sports Talks, Impulsyn‘s new podcast, Eva reviews her multiple sporting successes and contributes ideas to raise visibility and enhance women’s rugby.

Last year, Eva Aguirre was selected among eight international elite athletes to receive a scholarship from The Cruyff Athlete Fund. This initiative, aimed at facilitating the transition of professional athletes into the world of management through academic training, constitutes one of the main pillars of Johan Cruyff Institute‘s corporate social responsibility. Currently, Eva combines her professional career as a rugby player with her studies in the Master in Sport Business Online.

How do you experience your professional career in women’s rugby?

From my perspective, rugby is a wonderful sport. I discovered it late, at the age of 18, when I was already in university. It was love at first sight. Nowadays, the situation is different; girls start playing at school already. But in my case, I discovered it in university. Some friends suggested I try it, and I just loved it. I had previously played basketball, so I already had a certain motor skill foundation. Then, it was just a matter of learning to play and understand it; the hardest part of rugby is understanding the rules.

What has your professional career been like? Tell us how you got to where you are today, including your successes with the national team.

Currently, I’m exclusively dedicated to playing with the national team in the rugby 7s team. I’ve been in this sport for seven years, and this will be my last. Although we lost the qualification for the Olympics last summer, my teammates have just achieved another victory, the eleventh in their history, and they will surely continue to succeed. We have also participated in a World Cup; two years ago, we traveled to South Africa for the Rugby 7s World Cup, an incredible experience. As for international competitions, we constantly travel around the world, visiting places like China, the United States, and South Africa.

We train at the Central, located near the Moncloa area where the High Council of Sports (CSD) is located. Normally, we all come from different clubs. However, due to the demands of the competition and the high training loads, there is already a group of players who are exclusively from the federation, known as FED players.

How has the transition been from years of competition to starting the Master in Sports Business at Johan Cruyff Institute?

I participate in the PROAD (High-Level Athlete Support Program of the CSD), where I have a wonderful tutor. We have always kept in touch, and she has been sharing opportunities with me. Now that I am considering retiring, I am interested in how I can transition this stage of my life toward a path that allows me to learn how to manage and give back to sports and everything it has given me. I expressed my interest in studying for a master’s degree, and she helped me explore the options and advised me to prepare my resume. I was incredibly fortunate to be selected and receive a scholarship for elite athletes.

How do you balance your career as an elite athlete with studying for the Master?

It’s been an intense experience, but at the same time very motivating because I know I have a lot to learn. Also, I understand that everything I am experiencing has a purpose, which allows me to truly enjoy it. They make things very easy for me: they upload all the content, whether it’s classes or webinars, to the online platform. This allows me to access it anytime and anywhere. I’ve watched classes in airports and while I was in other parts of the world, taking the opportunity to catch up. It’s wonderful.

How have you seen the growth of women’s rugby in recent years?

I always use women’s football as a perfect example, which in the last five or ten years has seen a significant increase in the number of girls who want to play. In addition, stadiums in Spain are starting to fill up, driven by the recent World Cup victory, which has greatly increased its visibility. It is also crucial to talk more about the sport to improve its understanding. In France, for example, considered a summit of rugby, people usually watch it in bars. Look, with football, you don’t need to understand all the technical details to enjoy it; it’s something that, because it’s so ingrained, everyone seems to understand without being a coach. In the case of rugby, it is essential to transmit this sport from generation to generation.

“It is crucial to enhance women’s rugby and give it the value and importance it deserves, although it is a process that will not be achieved in one or two years, but rather a long-term push.”

What would you recommend to other professional athletes in your situation?

For me, education is fundamental; it is essential to train the mind as well. The sports career can be short, while the work life is much longer, so it is crucial to adopt a long-term mentality and have a plan. There is a saying that compares a good athlete to the legs of a bench, highlighting the importance of having balance in all aspects: family, stability with a partner, psychological support, and a good environment. In addition, education helps you focus on something more than just your sport, which brings great mental benefits.

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