Two mothers who stopped repeating to themselves «I can’t» and took the first step to achieve everything they intended
Rosa Estévez Monzón, 52 years old, from Arinaga (Gran Canaria). She permanently settled on the island in 2006, even if she used to come to Fuerteventura since she was 11. Grown up in a village by the sea, Rosa has never imagined she could end up discovering a sport, which is now a great passion –stand up paddle boarding– that would connect her to the ocean so much.
Belén Louzao Carlín, 45 years old, of Galician origins and settled in Fuerteventura 18 years ago. Natural-born worker and entrepreneur, great fighter, she is now the present Spanish champion in stand up paddling in the category Allround; she has never thought SUP could change her life.
These two women, both mothers of teenagers who are in the Onexe team, are a clear example of how to overcome your limits, a reference point for all those people who put a «NO» ahead. Repeating that «I can’t» to ourselves limits us, it becomes a fear that sets in ourselves as a great interference whilst achieving our dreams. Fear comes uninvited and stays till you dare do something against it.
These two mothers, who are now part of the Stand Up Paddle team of Onexe and train in the high-performance sports centre (Centro de Tecnificación) in Escuela Náutica Municipal, want to convey a message of motivation and talk about their experience in support of that «Yes, you can».
If 4 years ago someone had told you that you’d be part of the Onexe SUP team and that you’d compete in the Spanish Championship, what would you have thought?
Rosa: I wouldn’t have believed that, no chance! Today, after all this time training, enjoying and overcoming myself, I think any dream with SUP and Onexe is outdone by the reality I’m living.
Belén: I’d have thought they were overrating me.
How did you make up your minds to try Stand Up Paddling? Now you train almost daily… how many hours do you dedicate to it? Did you notice any change physically?
Rosa: Long ago, Nayra pushed me to start SUP but my answer was «are you crazy? How can I stand on a board?». She insisted, as my son and partner did, they’ve always supported me. I felt and had the need to do some sports, I used to watch the guys training and said to myself «why not?». But then fear and embarrassment stopped me, till when I decided, and not without fear, to start the beginner course, blessed be that day! Here I am now, happy! I thank my «super» trainer Esperanza for the interest and dedication, and Javier, my trainer out of the water, for his determination and his personalised trainings. Now we have two official days of training, one hour in the water and one out of it, but then we train anytime we can, both in the gym and in the water. I love exercising –even though I used to be a passive person–, I enjoy it, I love it, I’m motivated, we are very constant. Physically you feel very good.
Belén: I was convinced by Rosa, who I’ve been admiring ever since I’ve known her. I was also motivated by the thrill of sharing unforgettable moments with my daughter. I’ve always loved to do sports, but I didn’t think I could be part of a team, nor overcome my mental clichés. Moreover, it has always cost me a lot to have healthy habits. Now I’m more than happy because in the club there’s a positive and healthy environment. I train almost every day, even if not always in the water. We have a great trainer, I do some yoga at home and I have two friends I practise yoga and hypopressive abs with. In the water we have an awesome trainer I thank for her dedication and for the values she shares with us and the children, as well.
What does this sport represent in your lives and what do you love most about it?
Rosa: This sport gave me liveliness. I feel the need to get on a board and go out in the sea, it gives me a lot of strength. It boosted the smiles in my life. I love being part of Onexe for its environment, the way they value each member of this team, boosting the best of everyone. I feel like I’m in a family with my team mates and trainers and I enjoy all the activities we do, like living together during championships. It gave me the opportunity to meet wonderful people and great athletes. The people who love me and have been on my side say I’m their example to follow because when life presented me obstacles I didn’t give up and my dedication to SUP made me stronger; a kiss for them.
Belén: I’ve always loved the sea, but from the beach. Overcoming gusts of wind and rough waters on a board gave me the confidence to face life believing in myself and in my possibilities without waiting for somebody to do it for me. And what I like most is to feel alone and vulnerable in the middle of the sea, but at the same time resolute and able to manage situations.
Belén, you won the Spanish Championship in the category Allround last October in Baiona (Galicia), how do you feel about it?
Belén: I feel proud and this gives me the strength and thrill to keep training and overcoming greater challenges.
Rosa, you’ve already been participating in the SUP Championship of the Canary Islands for years, winning the first place, and you’re forth in the Spanish Championship. What happens in your mind in those moments?
Rosa: I live them fully, I always want to do my best for me and for Onexe. At the beginning of the competition I’m nervous and I always say to myself «What on earth are you doing here?», but immediately after I say «Rosa, come on, you can do it, you’re worth it» (laughter). What I do have clear in my mind is that I have to complete the competition, this is my objective, my challenge. Podiums are a stimulus, a prize to your effort –which I’m more than thankful for and happy to receive– we all love to be on a podium, but for me the most important thing is participating.
You are always setting higher goals, what’s your next one?
Rosa: We are now intensively training for the Spanish Championship here in Corralejo, organised by Onexe. We want to give our best, and I say «we» because I think we all have the same desire.
The club has lots of projects; finally Onexe is an official high-performance centre and I’m part of this project, which is very important for me, because they counted on me even if I’m not an elite athlete. I love this club and I’m very proud to be a part of it, feeling that you’re appreciated is extremely important.
My aim now is to be prepared enough to participate in everything the club proposes; they’re talking about participating in a stage of the Eurotour in Biblao, and even though it may seem like I’m aspiring to something too challenging, now I say to myself «why not?» (laughter). Of course, in my category. I would also like to learn other water sports, when this year competitions end.
Belén: My next goal is to participate in December in the Long Distance Spanish SUP Championship in the category Allround. I would love to participate in the Elite category, but I’m not trained for that. This is my objective for next year.
Your children started stand up paddling right before you, how is it to train and compete in the same sport? How do you live the experience of travelling together for the championships?
Rosa: I try to leave my maternal part aside, even if it’s complicated. It is a wonderful experience, very gratifying. We try to respect everyone’s space to live our own experience and improve. I try to teach my son that if you want something, you can achieve it. You have to work on it, discipline yourself… but in the club and during the competitions, I’m his team mate and he’s under his trainers’ control.
Belén: It’s an enriching experience and it helps to have something in common with your teenage children, and it’s even better if this something is a sport. I enjoy travels a lot because I go there as a team mate, rather than a mother. During the travels, all adults go back to be parents in some moments, but we also delegate responsibilities to the others, who help us a lot, which is basically what a team does!
Stand Up Paddling influenced you lives positively. Did it have the same effect on your children?
Rosa: For what concerns me, yes, definitely. For my son, and I think all children, SUP and Onexe contribute to their education –boosting those values that allow you to be a great person– and not just to their technical preparation, where they’re absolutely the best, no doubts about it! (laughter)
Belén: Sure! Discipline, good habits, team spirit, commitment, friendship, values. Finally, now the project that Nayra and all the technical team have been working on for such a long time is up and running; a high-level preparation is very positive for our children and for us as well.
Any message to communicate to our readers?
Rosa: I would love to see other parents and children coming here and discovering SUP or other water sports, that they know the club, that they overcome their fears. Here we all count.
Belén: Those who would like to do a water sport –but are scared at the same time– should try SUP. Once you overcome the initial fear, you will never stop practising and learning this sport or even others
Belén © Jakica Jesih
Rosa abrazando a su hijo Nico © Jakica Jesih