We want to thank our dear Ainhoa Tirapu, currently a goalkeeper at Athletic Bilbao for her time. We asked her some questions to get know her a little better.
How did you start playing soccer?
When I was 10 years old I used to play in my school´s playground and in the park near my house, until one day a friend of my parents told them that there was a girls' soccer team in our town, if I wanted to join. I started playing in Barañain and then from there I went to play football 11 in Lagunak. I was very lucky there was a female team in my town.
How is the Athletic team from the inside?
It's a family club, so to speak, we're all from here, and that makes our characters similar. We all know each other from seeing each other in Lezama, so relations are very close. We have all the necessary means to train in the best conditions and we have always felt very wrapped up in the structure of the club. We could say that we live in a paradise in women's soccer.
How does it feel to be the number 1 goalkeeper of the Spanish national team in an international competition?
After many years fighting in the qualifying stages with the national team, I was very lucky to form part of the team that qualified for the European Championship in 2013 and later, for the first time, for the 2015 World Cup. These are two competitions that I had the privilege to live from the field. Competing at the highest level against great stars that you have seen on TV is always a pride. Although I must admit that I have better memories from the European Championship.
You have a university degree, right?
The amateurism of women's soccer makes you see the importance of having a future, that's why most of us have university studies. I have a degree in Chemistry and I have a Master's Degree in Environmental Pollution and Toxicology.
Is it difficult to combine studies with being an elite athlete?
I'm not going to lie; it's not easy, especially if you're international. But you have to have the clear objective and assume your reality, most likely you cannot keep up with your classmates, but that should not frustrate you. If you assume that your situation is different and you try hard you will achieve it.
You have been wearing HO SOCCER gloves for over 10 years, what do you like about HO? Why did you choose us?
In its day I fell in love with the Ghotta model, in women it is usually very difficult to find gloves that fit your hand, since women´s hands are usually narrower than that of men and, although the length is fine, there is often a lot of palm left over. The palms are of very good quality, I have never been disappointed by the grip or durability.
What makes you keep using our brand after so many years? Do you feel we have served you well?
Whenever I have asked or commented on the models I have been heard and have been recommended the best for my needs. The treatment all these years has been exceptional and the fact that when women's soccer did not appear anywhere your brand was there, it is to be appreciated. You are pioneers of women's soccer in a way.
Do you think the support offered by brands to young goalkeepers is enough?
I believe that in Bilbao, the city has always bet on goalkeepers, perhaps the shadow of the Txopo and the betrayal in the net have something to do in this regard. Lezama has always been a quarry for goalkeepers and HO SOCCER has a great presence there.
Lately we are seeing that women's soccer is beginning to fill stadiums with more public than men, do you think that barriers are being demolished on the clichés of women's soccer?
It seems that suddenly there has been a change, I prefer to look at the progressive growth and try to strengthen it because I think that is what will bring stability to our sport. Of course, it is very exciting to be able to experience such exciting moments from a soccer field, I just hope it is not a momentary boom and that it will continue over time.
As a referent goalkeeper in national and international soccer, what advice would you give to a young girl who is starting to play soccer?
That she needs to work hard, in the end you either have talent or you don´t, but hard work can take you to places you never imagined. I was never the most talented goalkeeper of my generation, but I worked hard to achieve what I have been able to enjoy throughout my career. Also, you have to know that the opportunities are there to take advantage of, and when they give them to you, you have to hold on to them with your teeth if you need to.