There was a time, not so long ago - the airwaves sounded like ‘Las chicas son guerreras’ (‘Girls are Warriors’) - in which girls like Silvia Navarro and Carmen Martín, today’s captains of the Spanish handball team lacked female references. Times have changed and now they are the mirror in which thousands of girls can look at themselves.
Silvia Navarro and Carmen Martín
Girls are Warriors
In the 80s, at the time that ‘Las chicas son guerreras’ (‘Girls are Warriors’) was becoming a hit, a very young Silvia Navarro was absorbed in television watching the matches of Lorenzo Rico, the mythical handball goalkeeper, dreaming of emulating him. Now, decades later, it is Silvia Navarro who leads the way for thousands of girls who dream of playing handball. And she is not alone, Carmen Martín, the other captain of ‘Las Guerreras’ (as the Spanish women's handball team is known) accompanies her.
For Silvia Navarro (Valencia, 1979) and Carmen Martín (Roquetas de Mar, 1988) being the captains of the Spanish handball team is a privilege to the point that, when the Almerian is asked about the dream she has yet to fulfil with the national team, she blurts out without thinking about it: “Not to retire, but to have the possibility of always being here.” Perhaps, based on your career, your talent and your commitment, the privilege is mutual.
They have led the golden age of Spanish women's handball and, even so, they exude humility and gratitude for all those players who led the way. “What a shame,” says Silvia, “that the players of yesteryear could not enjoy the glorious moments that we have lived because it has been a constant struggle to position women in sport. And we continue to take little steps, not very big, but little steps so that we can one day hope to be on a par with the boys.”
“What a shame that the players of yesteryear could not enjoy the glorious moments that we have lived,” Silvia Navarro
Now Silvia and Carmen are references for thousands of girls who yearn to dedicate themselves to handball, something that they lacked. “I did not have a female reference because there was no female handball on television, but I did have a male one: Juanín García,” says Carmen. The same thing happens to Silvia, who quotes goalkeeper Lorenzo Rico and congratulates herself, while being simultaneously amazed, by the fact that both have become the mirror in which the youngest players look at themselves, something that she considers essential in any sporting career and in any area of life.
The spirit of the ‘Guerreras’
At the 2008 European Championship held in Macedonia, Spain rose to the podium in an international championship for the first time. During those days the women's handball team began to be known as Las Guerreras, an appellation that to this day they continue to wear with pride. When asked about it, Silvia starts: "For us Guerreras it is struggle, dedication, perseverance, work ..." And Carmen ends: "Sacrifice, humility, keeping our feet on the ground, knowing where we come from, what values we have to transmit to the people who follow us”.
Now Las Guerreras have a new goal: to take medal in the Handball World Cup that takes place at home in Spain, between December 1 and 19. “The environment changes a lot,” Carmen points out, “having the opportunity to play around our family, our friends, and all the people who are our fans. We really want to make the fans enjoy with Las Guerreras and try to go as far as possible”.
“The dream that we still have to achieve with the national team is not to retire, but rather to have the possibility of always being here,” Carmen Martín
When Carmen, who plays for CSM București (Romania), returns to Spain to don the national team jersey and play for Las Guerreras, she recognizes that a smile is drawn on her face. A smile that is not incompatible with the greatest of commitments: “Once you arrive here and change your clothes, you are in concentration mode; there is absolutely nothing else other than Las Guerreras. Everything is by and for the team, until reaching the highest level of mind and body to achieve the maximum possible.”
Captains and accomplices
When they are together, Silvia and Carmen show complicity in the form of gestures, looks, smiles, which is confirmed when each one talks about the other. "Silvia brings maturity and humility to the team," says Carmen. “Despite new people coming in and with a great age difference, she continues to be there, lending a hand and being committed to the national team and to her day to day as a handball professional.” Silvia, in turn, surrenders to her partner: “Carmen is our compass and her absences have always been very noticeable. For me she is a consistent reference.”
“Silvia brings maturity and humility to the team. Despite new people coming, she is still there,” Carmen Martín
A special admiration is captured in Carmen's gaze when her partner Silvia talks about her day-to-day life as a mother and a handball player. “If they give me the option of making a wish, I ask that my day have 36 hours because with 24 I can't cope. I have an eight-year-old boy and I take him to and pick him up from school every day, I go to training sessions, I am a housewife and it is a dizzy lifestyle. In addition, he is already noticing my absence during these championships and he unpacks my suitcase when I trave.”
When it comes to talking about talent, each one cites skills as different as they are complementary, and both fundamental when building a team. While Silvia speaks of "passion", Carmen points to the ability to "empathize". Perhaps it is precisely the passion of one and the empathy of the other that are the keys to the success of the team in recent years, so we can only end by wishing a long life to the captains at the helm of Las Guerreras. May they have rope for a while.