Equality in sport is something that is no longer a novelty, it is beginning to become a reality. Despite this, there is still a long way to go so that it is neither novelty nor reality, that it is simple normality. A path that surfers like Cristina Iglesias want not only to be seen in the water but also in the competition’s judging panels.
The Galician, who has just been proclaimed champion of the Galicia Cup and has just finished the course for the training of ISA judges, chatted with us about the way forward in a community as linked to surfing as the Galician and what would be your dream judging a sport like surfing.
This year there was not much competition, how does it feel to win one of the few tests that were held and also at home?
I think there is no better feeling than winning at home, I was surrounded by all my family and friends. It was a diazo, sun and great waves throughout the day. It is a luxury to be able to surf at Patos peak with only 3 more people in the water !!
How is female surfing currently in Galicia?
Well, the truth is that more and more girls are seen in the water. At the initiation level, the number of women or men who are in the water learning to stand up is very equal. But we do talk about girls who come to surf with a certain skill and who get in regularly over time, we are still few, although we are more and more. Also, here in the south of Galicia, which is where I live, I see a common trend; Many girls, during their junior stage, are highly motivated, but it seems that as soon as they turn 18 they abandon surfing, not only at a competitive level, but also at a free surfing level. There are some juniors that stand out above the rest, such as Martina Álvarez or Lucía Martínez, who finished second in this last round of the Galicia Cup and is still a sub 12.
Just as Galicia has people in the national team for boys, what is the push that is lacking in girls?
In boys we have Gony Zubizarreta, from Vigo who for many years has lived in Ericeira, Portugal. This “push” cannot be pigeonholed into a single factor, but it is made up of several, but the most important push that is needed in Galicia is that the quarry that begins to stand out receives some kind of scholarship or financial aid that allows pay for travel to competitions, technical material, as well as training with professionals in the sector. For example, the other quarry that stands out is that of the Basque Country, where it is also cold and usually accompanied by the rain. But unlike Galicia, in Euskadi there has been a brutal surf culture for decades, deeply rooted in society through different generations. From my point of view they have always been ahead. There is a lot of respect and support, both at the level of local stores or brands, as well as federal and institutional. They have several surfers training at the high-performance center, a very powerful Basque circuit in infrastructure, as well as having sports scholarships.
Besides being a surfer, you are a judge, how and where did you come from?
I am 23 years old and have been competing since I was 12, a fundamental part of the competition is knowing the regulations well and understanding what the judges want to see. I started as a speaker in some championships of the Galician circuit, there we usually have refresh on the screen and the notes that the judges put in each wave appear, the total average and what each competitor needs. I would see the waves of the competitors, think about my score and then I would compare it with the marks that the judges were putting into the system to see if it coincided with what I had in mind. I began to see what was something that I liked and that I was good at; in December 2017 they took a judging course in Ferrol and I did not hesitate to sign up.
It is not usual to see many girls, why?
Because from the age of 18, people must make decisions, from that age we acquire more responsibilities: continue studies, start working … And in many cases surfing goes into the background, even disappearing completely. Being a judge is a job that you have to like; it requires time and travel. The economic remuneration is not very high and it is not a stable job, there are months that maybe two championships are held and then three months go by without any. On the other hand, it is a great responsibility. If you are a judge and have also been on the other side, as a competitor on some occasion, it is most likely that you have experienced firsthand how decisive a 0.1 up or down can be in the score of a wave.
You recently did the one for the ISA, what goals do you set for yourself as a judge?
Short term; My goal is to take advantage of every opportunity that appears to be a judge, to continue to gain experience and that little by little they begin to count on me in higher level championships. It has been a great detail on the part of the ISA to organize the Women’s Judging Program worldwide. It makes me happy to see an attempt to equalize the number of men and women on the judging panels. And, being ambitious and thinking long-term, I would like one day to judge in international competitions and even be able to choose to judge an Olympic Games.
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