Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

"There are few female judges because we're afraid of being disadvantaged."

  • Naroa Iturain (Pamplona, 1992) hosts the pediment. He's a pelotari and also a ball-judge. As a child, the paddle aroused expectation and, following passion, started running by hand. However, the judge became almost forced, as the measurements among women were directed by the pelotaris themselves. He studied in Aragon, started working and liked working as a judge. The moves are followed with an eye and after last year’s World Championship, the Government of Navarre awarded him the award for the best sports judge of the year 2022 at the beginning of the year. Beyond confessions, he wants to see more women in command on the fronts.
Argazkia: Jon Urbe / Foku
Argazkia: Jon Urbe / Foku

What characteristics does a good ball judge need?

Above all, you must know the regulations and apply them correctly in the pediment. In addition, pelotaris or amateurs should not influence your decisions. Keeping our judgment clean is very important, while knowing what is right and what is not. You should focus on the moves at all times: each mode has its own speed, but everything happens very quickly. You have to look at pelotaris and pelotaris, and what happens outside. Your attention must be fully on the fronton. The judge doesn't have to be the protagonist, if people don't say anything about you, it's a sign that you've done a good job.

During the match, our main task is to resolve confusing situations. The largest number of discussions occurs when one pelotari upsets the other. One says it has done so intentionally, and the other says it has been involuntary. The same happens when the ball knobs very close to the counter line. We have to have a very sharp eye and trust collaborating judges. They're dedicated to tracking fingerprints.

The Government of Navarra awarded the award to the best sports judge.

It was a great recognition. I did not expect it, because I have been living in Aragon for a long time. I took the judge's course in Zaragoza in 2018 and then got permission to compete at the state and international levels. In January the voting time was opened to elect the best judge of Navarra and I was sent the link. It was a great surprise to see my name among the candidates. “How can I be here?” I thought. There were two other candidates: a futsal judge and a handball judge. I thought they would be better known than a ball judge, but I won with 55 percent of the votes. It was very rewarding because it shows that my work at home is recognized.

He started working as a judge by necessity. When you were in hand ball, you had no one to run the games.

I've always been inside a pediment. When I was growing up, I started to paddle. Women usually did the opposite, starting with the ball by hand and then moving to the shovel. I liked the two modalities. When I started playing by hand, we created the Aldatze group in Pamplona. We played the Navarra Championship and the federation sent judges. But when there weren't enough judges, they told us to use ourselves. The pelotaris had to act as judges. To give our parties some seriousness and officialdom, I decided to take a judge's course.

However, the Navarra Federation did not organize this course. He had to do it in Aragon.

I asked for a course in Navarra for two or three years, but it was not possible. By then I had a relationship with the Federation of Aragon, and in the end I did the course there. It was a weekend. As I did in Aragon, in Navarre I could not run any party. Two years later, I got the state title. It was similar to the territorial level course: physical tests, classes, theoretical exam and a little practice. The truth is, I liked judge work. I enjoy playing, but it's nice to be across the line. I have made progress. And last year I had the opportunity to participate in the Biarritz World Cup.

Have you had any doubts about any decision taken as a judge?

Yes. It was during the Pandemic, in the year 2020, at the Copa del Rey held in La Coruña. Navarre faced Catalonia in the semifinals and, at a certain point, one of the Catalans asked me to turn him around because he was annoyed. I was angry and told that I was making decisions for my team. The situation was very harsh, but the next day he apologized because I made the right decision. The game was recorded. At the very moment I clearly saw the play.

Are the people on the fronton more demanding with the judges?

The fronton patriarchy is there, and I thought people would expect me to fail. But today, most people are used to seeing women on the fronts, and as a judge, I have not felt contempt. Although the number of pelotaris is increasing, judges are still missing. We are still few. Some appear sporadically, but there is no increase.

What's the cause?

At first, all women are afraid: to see what they are going to say, to question our decisions, to make mistakes… We are afraid to be pejorated. As a result, you get more and more nervous and you feel embarrassed to go to the pediment. But we have to think that women can also do judicial work in the same way. Just as the boys run our games, we too can do the opposite. We have to lose that fear, because we all have the right to make mistakes. Anyone can put their leg in. It's normal. You can enjoy it despite the mistakes.

It breaks down that inside the pediment the command is in the hands of a woman. Have you felt pressure?

Before the pandemic I led my first Spanish Championship with another girl. It was women's week, and we were led to the second division end. It was a poisoned candy: if we did a good job, the referees could have things easier, but with a mistake, we would give arguments to some to tell them we couldn't share two judges. All the pelotaris were boys. We had a lot of pressure and we felt very nervous. Yeah, people were kind to us.

He also led a final at the Biarritz World Championship. Directing the importance of this party is the best way to show women that they can be judges?

Indeed. That end was a great challenge. It was the hardest match that morning and also played Spain and France. They had a lot of confidence in me. I was ready to lead a difficult party. The truth is that in the stands there were many fans of France, and I was going on behalf of Spain… There I was also under pressure. “To see what I do, because otherwise people will come on me,” I thought. It was a very tense game in which I felt my heartbeat. In any case, I did things correctly and for me it was a very enriching experience.

Is it necessary to renew sports entities to enhance equality in the ball?

Organizations have always been in the hands of men, although there are more and more women. A boost is needed to boost women's working groups. It is important that women work to the ball, as judges, but also as rulers in institutions. And that's very rare. Normally, men preside over federations. In Aragon we have a woman who is the only one in the state. The ball has been in the institutions for many years and I see the need for a relief. The ball needs new winds.

Do the federal authorities put men before women in the election of judges?

They usually choose a known and experienced man for important parties. Maybe there's a very good girl being a judge, but because she doesn't run so much party, she's not given the opportunity. We know that the authorities of the old law are not going to make that bet, and we have to raise our voices.

What working conditions do judges have?

Conditions are rare. The Spanish Federation pays twelve euros to the main judges and ten euros to the collaborators. It's insignificant. And the federation of each territory pays the same thing. In this regard, judicial work is not attractive. Good pelotaris get a lot more money. Some of us really like to be judges, and that's why we continue. If it were for the money raised, there would be no judges.

What party would you like to see corrected in the future?

The 2026 World Championship will be held in Argentina, and there I will try. 2030 will be played in Bilbao. It can be a nice dream. In short, I will refer to the World Championships under 22 next year in Pamplona. It would be great to live at home a tournament of this kind inside.


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