Stars from the Spanish national rugby team at the World Youth Cyber Meeting

Marta Lliteras and Jaime Nava in dialogue with Scholas youths

Two outstanding names in Spanish rugby, the coach and European champion with the Spanish national team Marta Lliteras and the former captain of the Spanish national team Jaime Nava, joined the international cyber meeting of the Scholas youth on Thursday 21 May. There, they shared with more than 120 young people from all over the world some of the best plays of their lives and their passion for the sport.

Young people from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, the USA, Israel, Mexico, Mozambique, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and South Africa, enjoyed a very special match, where rucks and melees were replaced by talks and reflections on topics such as freedom, passion for sport and motivation in this time of pandemic.

“Sport has given us many things that have ultimately made us feel free”, said Lliteras, a figurehead of Spanish rugby, manager of the Leonas7s and, currently, coach at Lexus Alcobendas Emerging.

From an environment dominated by men, Marta sent a motivational message: “…I think that, in the end, if you set yourself a goal, you can try to create a roadmap towards it and fulfil it. However, fulfilling that goal is not always the case… I’m not a fan of the ‘a will is a way’ attitude; but I believe that if you have the determination, the enthusiasm and the tools and you put those together in a super cool setting, with people who can support you, you can achieve it”. Hers was a message that resonated with many of the young participants, including Guada, from San Juan (Argentina), who said: “I started playing rugby two months ago and I’m passionate about it. I used to think it was a dangerous game, but I took the courage, and now I only think about training. I can’t play now because of the pandemic, yet somehow it gives me strength to keep playing once this situation is over.”

“It has not been easy, but when someone sees your work and values it, there is no difference between being a man or a woman: you are just a person who is qualified. Beginnings are difficult, although that doesn’t mean they are not beautiful. You can create a path, try to look for more female allies who can be with you in the team,” Lliteras recommended.

Sport as a value in itself

Jaime Nava, former captain of Los Leones [Spanish national rugby team], and who has not been afraid to move into other fields, such as his recent appearances on “Masterchef Celebrity” and now in the Movistar TV series “La Unidad”, also encouraged the boys and girls: “I invite all of you who are here to discard any preconceived ideas you may have. What is projected on the outside has nothing to do with what you experience on the inside. It is true that it is a tough sport, that there is a lot of contact; but it is a sport ruled by certain codes that dignify it, regardless of the category and whether you are a man or a woman.”

“First and foremost, this sport is about developing people, not just sportsmen and sportswomen. When it comes to shaping people, the choice of this sport will always be the right one,” he said.
“If you pursue this adventure, don’t be afraid to get involved one hundred percent on an emotional level…

I know that this is very important in Scholas, as one of its key means to form people is through sports,” Nava continued, referring to Scholas Sports programmes such as FutVal [football with values], Box Val [boxing with values], among others. “Sport is already a value in itself; the experiences we gain from doing sport can be applied in other areas in the future. Be emotionally involved, let yourself go, enjoy; if you don’t enjoy what you do, it doesn’t make any sense… I find myself in situations every day where I say to myself: ‘I’m going to add a touch of something that rugby gave me in the past.’” Such emotional involvement is what has led these two Spanish rugby figures to lead “All&go”, an agency that aims to connect people by bridging business and sport through their values and their experience in the world of sport.

A virtual third half

The current context, in which many have been limited in their sporting practice, did not go unnoticed in this virtual meeting. “Rugby has a very graphic picture, which is the tackle,” Lliteras shared. “When it happens, the player goes to the ground, but the game does not stop, as in basketball or football; the game has to continue, whether or not you have missed that tackle. You fall to the ground many times, and you have to get up. That situation stays in your head: you can either lay on the ground and rest, or you can get up and continue playing. That move repeats itself over and over again and remains engraved in the children’s minds. It is not necessary to be in a difficult situation; it happens to all of us, at work, in our daily lives, or right now in the situation we are in. Many people have had to fall, get up from the ground and decide where they were going next… My advice is to keep doing sport as much as possible, because it is a wonderful learning vehicle,” he concluded.

At the end of the meeting, José María del Corral, world director of Scholas, had some words of encouragement for the participants: “There are sports for the skinny, for the tall, for the fast, for the heavyweight, but rugby is a sport for everyone. If you are skinny or very small, there’s a place for you; if you are a heavyweight, if you are big, there’s another place for you. There’s room for everyone, there’s no bullying. Today the boys were able to show us that they are the inventors of the culture of the encounter that Pope Francis promotes, because after all the physical strain, the players get together with their supposed rivals, and share bread in a moment called the ‘third half.’”

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