Carme Lluveras is a woman who transmits passion. She says she likes being in charge, and she’s shown that she knows how to handle responsibility. She was one of the most successful women’s basketball coaches and broke taboos by becoming the first woman to join the coaching staff of an elite sports team. She now works in the media and teaches a masters in sports journalism at the Blanquerna university. This interview first appeared on El Punt Avui Televisió.
How did you first get started in basketball?
I am pathologically competitive. And so I thought it would be much healthier for me to go into sport. I actually graduated in piano, and I studied business and law. Yet, I also did all types of sports and saw that the best way to channel my competitive potential was through basketball!
Why are you so competitive?
I don’t know, because I’m not from a sporty family. It must be something in my genes, a need inside me. You hear people today talking about being competitive as if it were a bad thing. But it isn’t! It is how we play: you need to do better than the other.
Do you like to be the best in all aspects of life?
In everything, even though I know that I can’t be. But I cannot live without stress; I find it so boring. As long as you know how to control it, stress can be a blessing.
You once said: “Society progresses, but sport continues to be obsolete, archaic and masculine... It is a sealed bubble.” Do you still believe this?
I hoped we would make progress but no, I think things have got worse. I was not only talking about men’s sport, but the whole thing, our whole environment, the world around us, and I still don’t have enough words to describe it.
You don’t like to be called a former coach...
A coach does not simply train people. They are sports professionals of a thousand different types. At the base of it all is knowledge, and the experience of training people, but you can also be a manager or a sports minister. I am now a sports analyst, mainly of basketball, but I also do a football talk show. It is about having a base that serves many purposes.
You trained a men’s team in the EBA league and you were on the Unicaja coaching staff in the ACB league, but you have never been the head coach of an elite men’s team. Is that just because you are a woman?
At the time I was surprised, despite my professional aspirations. I think that in basketball, and in sport in general, I was not ready for it. I thought that if I was coaching women, why couldn’t I do the same with men? I think it came too early, and no one was thinking in those terms.
Not then and not now. There is no female coach in the ACB league.
It is a disgrace. Although that’s not to say that just because a woman gets somewhere that all the problems will be solved. The world needs to change so that women can reach where they are trying to get. We are talking about professionals. It is not an issue of male sexism, but rather that the male way of thinking is not ready. At least not for us to be seen as coaches, or for that matter as managers or heads of departments! We have to do almost everything behind the scenes.
Do you think that the sealed bubble you say surrounds sport can be broken?
I am resigned to it. The world of men is not ready, even though people get offended when I say that. But they do not understand, they do not realise. If you take two world champions, a man and a woman, journalists will usually only ask for the man’s opinion. They don’t even realise that she might have something to say, too. They find it hard, even if the woman has the same knowledge, preparation and experience.
Is there a way to change this?
I have always thought it is a case of them not realising. Yet, I’ve come to think that they could be doing it on purpose, because it favours their position of privilege in this world. How can we change it? In basketball, you say things once, then twice, and the third time you enforce it. It is the law that has to be enforced...
You said once that your prefer to train men over women...
I’m a woman and I know what we are like. We are best at reflecting and when it comes to giving orders you have to almost come up with a doctoral thesis to train women. If you don’t explain everything, you won’t do a good job. That’s tiring. When you train men, you need the same things you need with women: credibility, authenticity when it comes to the work, for everyone to respect you for what you know. But, you can convince a man in five minutes.
What is the difference between how men and women take charge?
I don’t think there is a masculine or feminine way of being in charge, but it’s also true that perhaps the patterns we have always followed are more masculine, and so we have probably copied them and adopted some male ways of doing things.
Can you imagine a female coach in charge of Barça, for example?
No. I think we are going backwards, and I really doubt that it will happen.
The UN says that in 2030 half of all decision-making posts will be occupied by women. You don’t believe that?
Why wait 13 years? That’s why I don’t believe it! Let’s do it now. We are already showing that we are capable. If you really wanted to make it happen, you could do like Iceland and pass laws to enforce equality between men and women. There’s no need to wait so long.
You also teach at the Blanquerna university...
For the past six years, and I love it! I thought that I’d give it a try and that the next day they’d get rid of me. But no! I’m still teaching journalism at Blanquerna. I thought that I could give them a hand, because to know what you are talking about you need to know the world of sport.
What is the secret to making a team work well?
First there has to be hard work, at the maximum and most demanding level. There must also be passion for the work. If the components of the team do not have this, you have to instill it in them. From here on, you begin building a sort of pyramid to which you add all the pieces you need to achieve success. I think that one of the things that is most important in a team is respect; without it nothing works. Yet, it’s something that is hard to achieve, even in real life.