Spain’s Lionesses have stepped forward for their country to engage with local clubs with an innovative campaign called #YoSeréLeona (I will be a lioness), where players sponsor local clubs.
It is hoped that the drive will also help with the retention of females at club level in Spain, as sport continues to find ways of coping during the pandemic, in this collaborative effort from the press and development departments within the union.
It’s the clubs themselves that apply for the players and the national governing body has already received applications from 134 clubs and the noise made on social media following the initiative has certainly been noticeable.
The union has 34 current and ex-players involved and leading the charge for the Leonas is 24-year-old Maria Losada, who plays for both the sevens and the XV national side. Her work has been lauded by the federation as ‘fundamental to the success of the #YoSeréLeona campaign’ co-ordinating the players with clubs.
Speaking to Rugby Europe she said, "The Clubs campaign reception has been amazing. In less than 5 days more than 90 clubs were waiting for their new "godmother", and now we have had more than 150 clubs engage with us. Even when the registration period had ended, some clubs were requesting to come on board.
“We're really shocked for all the love that we're receiving from the Clubs and this campaign, it's opening our eyes for the need to give our sport a boost.”
The campaign started in November and ran until December, where clubs have hosted activities, where possible, with their youth sections for the players to attend but the union has a number of other activities in the pipeline.
For those unable to be there physically, the Spanish role models have held a number of Zoom calls as they look to inspire the next generation of players to pull on the jersey.
At the end of last year the Spanish squad were able to return to the pitch, which had the names of their clubs on their socks as they took on the best players from the Spanish leagues, called the ‘Stars’.
It was a comfortable win for the Lionesses, but it was more about returning to a level of match fitness after a Covid-induced break as they look towards conclusion of the Rugby Europe Championship, when conditions allow.
Losada concluded “We're the present Lioness, but if we want our Spanish team to continue growing, we have the responsibility to encourage the girls, and make some noise."
With a path to the Rugby World Cup 2021 still open, the Leonas will be dreaming of a spot on the plane to Auckland, New Zealand in September and one thing is for certain if they make it, they’ll be well supported back home!