Laia Palau:“It’s basic to support research on physical training for women”


In the framework of the Summer Olympic Games 2024, the GAP Women Partnership seeks to promote the female athletes’ careers and challenges they faced in order to inspire future generations. First interview was done with Laia Palau, a former basketball player born in Barcelona, Catalonia, who was an international player from 2002 and captain of the Spanish national team from 2014.

UFEC: Laia, thank you for being with us. How did your passion for basketball begin and what led you to turn it into a career?

Laia: My passion for basketball started at home, with my parents, who always supported me. Growing up in a pro-sports environment, I never felt like a woman who must follow traditional gender roles. Initially, I didn’t imagine basketball would be my professional career, but my family and surroundings allowed me to develop in the sport without any restrictions.

UFEC: Did you have female role models when you started playing basketball?

Laia: Not many. There wasn’t much visibility for female athletes in the media. My mother was a role model for me because she played sports, but she wasn’t a professional. It’s important for girls to have visible role models, something that wasn’t common in my time.

UFEC: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the world of basketball?

Laia: Structural violence and discrimination are significant issues. Although I was fortunate with my family’s support, many women don’t have the same opportunities. Resources for women in sports are limited, and sports structures are often designed for men. Even in basketball, which is traditional in Catalonia and Spain, women have to fight harder to succeed.

UFEC: Have you had more male coaches than female ones? Do you think this affects how women are trained?

Laia: Yes, most of my coaches were men. This can be problematic because women have bodies different from men. Training as if we’re all the same can increase the risk of injuries. However, I’ve had good male coaches, and a person’s character is more important than gender.

UFEC: What would you do if you had resources to improve the situation for female athletes?

Laia: If I had more resources, I would use them to support research on physical training for women, especially during the menstrual period. I would also support specific programs for women and promote the presence of more women in coaching and leadership positions. It’s important to have more female coaches who understand the specific needs of female athletes.

UFEC: What message would you give to the new generations of female athletes who want to pursue a career in sports?

Laia: I would tell them that a sports career is challenging and requires a lot of determination and hard work. You need to have a clear vision and fight for your goals. The world is competitive, and we can’t expect someone to pave the way for us. Women must be persistent and believe in their abilities to succeed.

UFEC: In conclusion, how do you see the future for women in sports?

Laia: I hope for a future with more equality and opportunities for women in sports. I want to see more resources for female athletes and more women in leadership positions. I also hope for a social change to recognize and value female talent in sports. With more effort and dedication, we can create a more inclusive and equitable future for all female athletes.