Irene Paredes: 'We want to have the same opportunities'

Irene Paredes: 'We want to have the same opportunities'

One of the Barça Women captains looks back on her career so far and what lies ahead in relation to equality in sport on International Women's Day

One of the most visible faces of Barça Women is the centre back Irene Paredes. Since the Basque player arrived at the Club in the summer of 2021, she has become one of the pillars in the defence of a team who are practically unbeatable, alongside Mapi León in the middle of the back four. 

With Irene one could talk Barça and the exciting challenges that lie ahead of her all day but we have not talked football with the Barça defender. Instead, in light of International Women's Day on 8 March, we spoke to the Basque native on the subject of gender equality. 

What do you think has changed in women's football in the last decade? 

A lot of things have changed. It is true that our reality is that of the rest of the world. In my experience it has changed from being basically amateur to totally professional. This is happening more slowly in other teams. Society is changing, the way of looking at us as footballers and women. We are getting better and better conditions and in the end that is what we want. 

What steps need to be taken so that women's football gets where it needs to be and can be compared to the men's game? 

What we want is to have the same opportunities. It would be good if the laws and agreements were the same, with the same working conditions on offer to everyone, we could play football in a much more professional manner, making it more attractive to the fans. There will always be people who don't like it, but this way there will be better players and also a better product. 

What is missing in society for it to be more mature in this sense? 

For me it is all about education. It is education that conditions how women are looked at and therefore how women are looked at in sport. It's what we invest in ourselves, that is what has to change and then raise our voice and not be silent. Until recently, I myself had to be quiet, say nothing and accept things as they were. I think that is coming to an end also and it has to if we want to keep moving forward.

What has been most difficult due to the simple fact of being a woman? 

Everything. Starting with being accepted at school for being the only girl [who played football]. I have friends who had to stop playing football because it was thought of as a boys' game. It is a constant battle. It is true that through fighting we have managed, today, to have achieved better conditions and that it's clear we have to keep improving so that the following generations do not have to be in a constant battle and can dedicate themselves to football, or any other sport, from a young age. 

For those little girls who play football, what would you say to them? 

I would say to them that they should not take any notice of people who say those things. If there is something that they like, whether it is football, or whatever else, they should enjoy it. It is difficult to get to be a professional but if you do what you like then you will get far. 

Does Irene Paredes have a female role model?

I have had them but when I was older. When I was little, playing professional football was not an option that existed. I saw the boys and knew that this was not possible. My role models came later on and they are team mates. Amongst all of them I would single out Vero Boquete. 

Now you can be seen as role models. How do you handle that responsibility? 

It's something really nice. It is true that it is a responsibility, but it is a good thing. To think that I can be a role model for boys and girls to look up to and see that being a woman footballer is possible makes me proud and it also gives us the power and responsibility of having done the right things.

How do you see women's football in 15 years time? 

I would like for us to not to have to be fighting for things. That filling Camp Nou, something amazing and wonderful, is something usual. That it is not just FC Barcelona but also the rest of the clubs that follow this path also.

What do you think of the Club's commitment to women's football? 

It was totally necessary. Society and the players demanded it. When there is the desire to improve something, it can be done; with the intent, you can. Society also has given its answer. We have seen how the fans fill Spotify Camp Nou. It's true that there has to be a firm commitment from the rest of the clubs too, above all with actions and not just words.

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