If the story of Carlos has made you think and you also want to help this cause to change the world
There was a day in which Carlos, pursuing his dream of becoming a football coach, approached the Madrid federation of the sport to ask for information to take a course. On the other side, someone laughed, which made Carlos, without hesitation, answer: "Are you telling me that because I'm in a wheelchair I can not train for a football coach?" On the other side, the laugh answered: "I guarantee you that you will not be able to train". To which Carlos replied: "Well I guarantee that this week will call many people to tell you that this is very unfair."
"I came up without knowing very well what I was saying," he confesses. The reality is that it was: just a few days later, the Federation received a flood of signatures (more than 75,000) through the Change.org platform, demanding a change in regulations that prevented people in wheelchairs from accessing the training of soccer coaches. A few days later, the regulations changed.
"What makes me happier about this process is that what we have achieved is for all people. It is not that I have been allowed to prepare to be a coach, but that we have eliminated an unfair rule and anyone can now benefit from it. "
The world as a playground
Listening to Carlos, one can come to understand the world as a great team in which each person supports others from their place, from where they can. Some from the defense, others from the left side, from the half point, and others, like him, from the bench. The example of that great truth came to Carlos, who today is 36 years old, through his father and grandfather, who each week overcame their phobia of agglomerations to accompany him, in his passion for football, to games in the Vicente Calderón. "They were always by my side, overcoming their fear, and that was their way of showing me their affection", explains Carlos.
Although he has always experienced life from a wheelchair, he only assumed his lack of mobility as a real problem when the adults made him feel. "Children have no limits, they do not know fear, they want to play with you and you do not care if you hit the ball with your foot or with a wheel. Disability becomes a problem when we get adults into it. " I ask Carlos how adults lifted that barrier: "In the deal, in the way they interacted with me, they thought that I was going to break up."
And insists on highlighting this point with a phrase that should appear tomorrow at all bus stops: "The worst of functional diversity is that many times it is not your legs, your body or your brain that incapacitates you, but society" .
Disability shows you a different world
In the conversation I understand immediately what is behind that impetus with which Carlos responded to that person who questioned his ability to be a football coach: he has never limited himself to identifying himself with the two wheels of his chair. He is everything you can imagine and, in fact, has dedicated himself to so many things that he loses his mind when enumerating them.
When asked about the illness that brought him to a chair since he was a child, Carlos overcomes the answer, not because of rejection (I think), but because he prefers to focus our attention on other things. He talks to us, for example, about the time he has not had to lose with people in papier mâché. "Disability shows you a whole different world that is milk. You can not walk, well you see! It allows you to meet many people, to really know them because people who are not real, who do not really have a good background, are not going to approach you, do not care. Then you save a lot of things. "
Maybe it was that different perspective that he could perceive from his chair that made him start taking an interest in the bench. Also his grandfather, who from a very young age started calling him Mister. "You see a different football, the one that is not seen being in the field but only from the bench. The coach is the one who understands the importance of the team beyond the individual players. " For Carlos, I will discover it throughout the interview, the comparison of the world with the team idea is a constant.
Recover the illusion with women's football
There was a day when Carlos lost interest in football.
He discovered things about sports that he did not identify with: angry fans, misplaced comments, racism … Things that got too far away from what he was and wanted to be as a person. "I also realized the business that exists with the illusion of many people. Sport is not something that should be elitist and limited to the upper class; the sport belongs to the people and to the people. "
One day, her friend Lucia (who always accompanies her and who was also at her side when she started the petition for the change of regulations) invited her to a match in the women's soccer league. It was at the Vicente Calderón, in the same stadium where his father and grandfather overcame their phobias every week to accompany him. With that game, with that other way of competing that he perceived in the field, Carlos regained his enthusiasm for sports. The coach was back. "For me it represents what football really is. If today someone really wants to see a sport that is not commercialized, that is not sold, I invite you to watch the women's league because it is exciting. "
But yes: if someone wants to watch a game in the women's league, let them be patient. "On TV or on the Internet you can watch any football match from anywhere in the world, but the women's soccer league is impossible." And when telling it, Carlos returns to be indignant. As if on the other side was the laughter of the one who challenged him to go ahead with his purposes.
That's why now, Carlos's goal is on the field. "As important as disabled people entering the world of football is to equate women's football with men's," he explains. Why does not anyone know the players in the women's league? Why do not the boys and girls start exchanging stickers with their names, as we have done generations and generations with the men's league players? He knows very well that this is a long career in which, without a doubt, he wants to participate and in which he is willing to propose and "fight" all the small goals that are needed to change reality.
Carlos's smile lights up when he talks about the list of plans he has for the future. "As a coach I do not have a dream, I have thousands of dreams. I dream of being in all the feminine benches of Spain; I dream of traveling around the world with female teams; for dreaming, I dream of winning the women's Champions League with Real Sociedad or with Rayo Vallecano. "
Carlos knows very well that the barriers to equality are multiplied at each step, that after one step, the others appear. But the coach knows very well that there is no barrier that gets in the way of a good team and that the important thing is to always put the energy in the next match.
look at her
listen to her
Content adapted from Carlos' video
In Spain there are more than 22,000 soccer coaches. Carlos Rodrigo dreamed of being a coach, spent hours analyzing games. However, the Spanish Football Federation requires to shoot a ball to access the training course. Carlos Rodrigo obtained 75,000 signatures to change the regulation. Today, anyone in a wheelchair like him can become a coach.
My name is Carlos, I am 36 years old and I was born in Madrid.
I have a spinal muscular amiotrophy, which is a degenerative disease; I was diagnosed as a little child. It is not something that interested me; When you have a disability, you have a disability, it does not matter which, and the society marks you, then we are those.
My grandfather among the many values that he has taught me, because that, respect, fulfillment, right? Also be responsible, until you almost become stubborn, right ?, for something, but of course, for something you know that It's fair and you have to fight to change it. And nothing, because above all also passion, passion for football.
I went with my grandfather to see Real Madrid train, I went to class and then I went to see Real Madrid and when I did not have class I was going to see Real Madrid, you know, and that I'm from Atleti.
In an unconscious way, right? I suppose if you are leaving the position of coach, oh, cool! Well, it was already clear that I would not be able to be a player.
A friend, Lucia, who is a very, very, very special person who is the one who takes us to football, one day said: "Let's go to women's soccer, man, they have opened the Calderón, you have to fill it." And there we went, and the truth is that to this day, my life has completely changed.
And I decide that if women's football has managed to give me back the illusion, then we're going to work for it, right? I learned how all this coaches work, which goes by levels, you have to sign up at a school. You have to overcome a technical circuit, right ?, to access teaching as a coach. So, it seems absurd to be forced to shoot a ball when a coach does not hit, they teach to hit.
When they tell me in the Federation that a person in a wheelchair can not be a coach, I told them we were going to change the law with them or without them.
I wrote to Lucia and I said: "I believe that I am going to make a Change, that it sounds to me that these get things". The Change.org platform itself gets in touch with me, communicates to me that it is a cause that they believe is very fair and that they will do everything possible to reach a lot of people.
And to the days they say to us: "Go ahead, we are going to change this norm". They publish it on the web: "We have eliminated this restriction", and here we are removing the title of UEFA B.
Maybe we ask a lot, right? But to support athletes with disabilities is vital because they are an axis.
This content has been developed by Yoigo.