Murcia, Mar 8 (EFE).- Athlete, politician and “activist for women’s rights and disability”. Sonia Ruiz Escribano, wheelchair basketball player and coach and deputy for the Popular Party in the Murcia Regional Assembly, she is an example of desire and self-improvement, someone who fights for what she believes in and a benchmark in her field.
This 41-year-old from Union – she was born on May 6, 1981 in that town near Cartagena – is a member of the UCAM Murcia BSR squad, a club founded in 2015 and that competes in the Division of Honor, but it is much more than that.
Sonia, international with Spain and also coach of the women’s under-25 national team. She does what she likes and fights for it also as president of an entity that is a leader in the BSR.
“Fundamentally I am an athlete, although I also serve as a deputy in the Assembly, and it moves me to fight for what I believe. I was away from home for 17 years, even competing in Australia and I wanted to enjoy my family again after being an aunt. I understood then that I could do it by setting up a club to maintain my connection to this sport that I practice with passion and that is what I did ”, she indicates, telling her story after training at the Príncipe de Asturias pavilion in the capital of Segura.
She is aware of the difficulty of making a place for herself in elite sport, especially as a woman and with a disability, although that has changed, as she also acknowledges.
“A few years ago you had to be close to excellence for them to count on you, being a woman in a mixed sport but with men taking over almost all the places in a squad. To have minutes on the field you had to do more than them and that is what made me who I am today and, therefore, it is not something that I remember with sadness either”, explains someone who knows very well what it is face the challenges “with the triple discrimination of being a woman, an athlete and disabled”.
That handicap, which is less and less so, helped Sonia to give her all and she continues to do so. “In a way I am an activist for the rights of people with disabilities and not only for their rights but also for the effort to transmit a new image of disability and especially of women with disabilities,” she says.
Just when International Women’s Day is commemorated, Sonia looks back and remembers what she had to live through in her early years as a basketball player.
“At first they sent me to wash from the stands when I was on the field and fortunately that has changed. Those were different times and the perception today is different and even the teams are looking for women because they know what we bring to the group and I honestly believe that in that I helped set a trend and currently four of the 12 members of the squad are women and we became six”, he says.
From the UCAM Murcia BSR, in addition to competing in their sport, work on integration and job placement is carried out. “We are focused on the comprehensive training of the athlete and we contribute to their training and to getting to work through the activity we carry out. Not in vain, we have a company linked to the club of which the players themselves are a part”, says Sonia, who sends a message to those girls who are considering starting the path that she began many years ago.
“To those girls who have a disability and want to play a sport, I say whatever you do and whatever you choose, have passion. Luckily there are fewer and fewer obstacles for women, although they still exist, and the way to overcome them is to have passion and believe in what you do ”, is her message in this regard.
On the track and in short it is clear that Sonia Ruiz gives everything and also does it in the Assembly. “In this legislature, with 23 disputed and 22 deputies and two people, the two women, with disabilities in the Chamber, we promote laws that favor integration and it is a clear workhorse for Toñi Abenza (PSOE) and for me. I believe that politicians are changing the way we see things and that the administrations are betting heavily on sport for people with disabilities, although there is still a very social part in all of this. I think we have to insist on making the matter natural and not going so much to Social Policy aid because what we have to look for is to be treated as professionals and we have taken a step because at this moment the disabled athlete has the qualification of semi-professional ”, he says sonia.
In this sense, support, both public and private, is basic and the evolution of the Spanish Paralympic sport also depends on it, in which wheelchair basketball has a status that it earned hard.
“On an international level, Spain is very well positioned, especially in the men’s section, as shown by the fact that the team won European and world medals and the girls are also beginning to be recognized, as shown by the bronze obtained in the European 2021, which was the first podium in a top-level competition”, recalls the Unionense, who also contributes to that progression from her position as U-25 coach.
“The creation of this national team, a step that we took with the effort made by the Spanish Federation of Sports for People with Physical Disabilities (FEDDF), is important and necessary because it is the step prior to the absolute selection and allows practically not to pass from school at the highest level, a reality shock that in many cases leads to abandonment. The project went ahead and the president of the FEDDF chose me for the position. At first I thought that we had to make way for new people, but I rethought it and ended up accepting, with the challenge of fighting during the first years for snacks and in that war I feel comfortable”, argues Sonia Ruiz Escribano, a smiling fighter for whom the barriers are nothing more than obstacles that can be jumped.
Manuel G. Tallon