Sergio Batista Díaz (Granadilla, 1954) is the lawyer of a family of doctors. His father, Don Blas Batista, one of the great medical doctors of that impoverished south of the island, almost gave him a slap when Sergio told him: “Dad, I want to study tourism.” The doctor squared up in front of him and lectured him: “You study a university degree (then tourism was not) and then, if you want, do that tourism.” And Sergio graduated in Law and did very well in his profession, until one day, exhausted, he decided to park the courts and dedicate himself more to real estate, in which one of his daughters now helps him. I have not said yet that Sergio Batista presides over UDG Tenerife, the only female team in the Canary Islands First Division. He is also vice president of the Tenerife Soccer Federation. He never sits in his armchair during a game played by his own, but walks and walks until exhaustion, like Sampaoli, while the team’s soccer players perform on the field. An initiative of the UDG Tenerife and the Unión Deportiva Las Palmas has increased the collection for the victims of the Cumbre Vieja volcano by around 70,000 euros. It was row 0 of a match played, perhaps for the first time in Spain, between two teams with half men and the other half women on each side. Well, since they play 11 not exactly half, but almost. I ask him if the equipment costs him money and he says: “Not anymore, not anymore; now the club has its budget, in accordance with the rules that have made it professional. We are waiting for the Women’s Professional Football League to be fully established and we hope that it will work better, even, than the other one, the one in Tebas ”.
-When was the UDG Tenerife born?
“In 2013, eight years ago, women took to the field to give a sports lesson.”
-And in the First Division?
“You will remember that we rose in 2015, against Betis, but we were about to do it even a year before.”
-Do women play better than men?
“Women’s football is more plastic, much more plastic. It is very similar in that plasticity to tennis. And it’s catching you and catching you and one day you realize that you can’t live without it. “
-Are you nervous?
“Damn, of course I pass them. You don’t know the tension of the matches ”.
-But you’re a Tete fan, aren’t you?
“Of course, from Tete and my team, the other Tenerife.”
-What a shame they don’t understand each other.
“On our part, yes. And of course we will end up playing at the Rodríguez López stadium and opening our offices there. The Cabildo de Tenerife must treat two professional clubs that are active in national divisions with the same respect. In addition, next season we will have to have a grass field, with more than 4,000 seats and an environment appropriate to the category of the team ”.
-CD Tenerife seems to be not very convinced.
“I hope to reach an understanding. My relationship with President Miguel Concepción has never been bad. And he is a man with a sense of football, very sensible and I know that he follows our trajectory and that he is happy with our triumphs. Besides, he is a good person. We are sure that we are going to work together and that one day CD Tenerife will absorb the First Division women’s team, as we have proposed several times ”.
-There are not so many games a year.
“Of course not. The field is not going to deteriorate because fifteen more games are played per season. Because we would only use it in official matches, of course, not in training sessions or anything like that ”.
-With how much budget do you manage to get ahead each year?
“About two million euros, at the moment.”
-How much does a player on the team earn, on average, professionally?
“Between 25,000 and 30,000 euros a year, those who earn the most. Very little, compared to men’s professional football, but everything will work out. Especially when the stadiums begin to fill with audiences to see the women play, as is already the case in other European countries and in the United States ”.
-In the beginning, the Women’s League is being supervised by the Higher Sports Council (CSD).
“As you know, the discrepancies between the Spanish Football Federation and our Club Association (ACFF) are settled, at least until 2024, by the CSD. I’m sure that in the end we will reach agreements and we will be able to improve even certain performances of the Men’s Professional Soccer League ”.
(While I am talking with Sergio Batista, I am delighted. Sergio telephones Juan Padrón Morales, president of the Canarian Football Federation and La Tinerfeña. I speak with Juan, a great friend of Sergio and myself; we spoke for a little while with him for the ” hands free. ”It had been a long time since I had that pleasure. Juan Padrón is one of the best people I know, an honest and brilliant leader, who has been mistreated by Spanish football and a sector of the press. Thanks to him, Spain has achieved his most important international triumphs. And he was also one of the best footballers in the history of this sport in the Canary Islands. No matter how many whores they do to him, Juan Padrón will always be among the greatest. And he will always have my friendship. A hug, friend. Sergio tells me :).
“Juan is my friend and my president. We talk a lot about football things ”.
-Do the institutions committed to this comply with their contributions to UDG Tenerife?
“The Cabildo, yes; the City Council of Granadilla has not entered us for two years, but there is a good understanding and I know that it will comply soon. I am aware of the hardships suffered by municipalities and even more so in times of crisis, such as the one we have experienced ”.
– And the companies? Do they collaborate?
“Egatesa’s sponsorship has been very interesting and I publicly thank its president, Juan Pelayo, for his generosity. I must also have words of gratitude to Binter, whose chief executive, Rodolfo Núñez, was always by our side in the most difficult moments for the team. Binter bet very strongly on us ”.
-At one point, the La Salud field, which is municipal, was thought for the team to play their games there.
“With the professionalization of women’s football, since last June 15 there are rules that will be mandatory next season. And the La Salud field, which was a good alternative solution, does not meet the conditions imposed by the Women’s Professional Soccer League. We could locate 4,000 people doing works, we could plant natural grass in good conditions, but the accesses are problematic and there are no parking spaces, which means that we are missing two of the main requirements for the League to recognize the field as suitable for the First Division ”.
-It seems a miracle that you are among the great teams, even beating them on occasions and playing finals.
“Yes, it’s true, it seems like a miracle, but there you have us, seven years in the First Division, playing the semifinals of the Queen’s Cup and twice being fourth in the League. And we did not ascend in 2014 by a goal, we must not forget this, a year after the foundation ”.
-And representing the Island.
“To the Island, to the capital and, of course, to Granadilla, which was where we were born.”
-The question is almost obligatory in these times. Or not, you will tell me. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
“I do not consider myself a feminist, but I am a man of my time and therefore I advocate and fight for equal rights between men and women. It would be more ”.
(Sergio’s wife attends the interview. The president is worried about some tests that have just been done and that will force him to improve his diet. During this time one of his brothers, also a doctor like his father, called him to throw him out. A health fight. Sergio Batista speaks to me, and very well, about Miguel Ángel Ramírez, president of the UD Las Palmas, who, precisely thanks to a diet, has ended up being reduced by half. and Miguel Ángel has shown his solidarity. This match has made headlines throughout the world. Televisions from more than 20 countries have covered the match and we have found an extraordinary collaboration in the Sports Union. Without the Gran Canaria club we would not have achieved the success of collection and solidarity, including from great players and international institutions, who have sent their messages of support to the palm trees ”).
-I will ask you again the question of the integration of the women’s team in Tete. What really happened?
Well, I don’t lose hope. But we offered it to Miguel Concepción for free, without any fee. And we have not received a response. But I repeat that I believe that Tete will reconsider and in the end we will be able to reach agreements, whatever they may be. We are open to it like a fan ”.
-By the way, how do you see female refereeing?
“You saw the other day, two women in a referee quartet in the men’s First Division. He is improving a lot and there are good referees who are women. You cannot achieve everything in a short time. Here, for example, attached to the Colegio Tinerfeño, there is a woman referee with a great future, Marta Huertas. There is Guadalupe Porras, auxiliary collegiate in the Men’s First Division. And many more”.
-Sergio, what do you aspire to this year?
“To everything, because we have made a great team and we have a good coach. We have very good players and as soon as the public feels comfortable in a field in conditions we will have adequate entries to the category. I already told you about the plasticity of women’s football, which is launched in terms of technique and attractiveness for spectators ”.
-Even so, with that budget, it will be difficult to get very high, right?
“You may be right, but we will foreseeably double it next year, for reasons of the competition itself. And because we aspire to more in our trajectory. The club has three teams, the First Division and two others in other categories. We are creating quarry. It is a shame that this work will go to waste, if we do not obtain the appropriate aid and the collaboration of CD Tenerife ”.
-What are the priorities when signing?
“We have it very clear; First, Canarian players. Then, Spanish footballers. And, thirdly, foreigners. And we have always taken this into account ”.
(The interview with Sergio Batista, a soccer man, has ended. Another member of his board of directors, Julio Luis Pérez Alonso, was going to accompany him, but he went with the squad to the Peninsula to comply with the League, as a delegate. Right hand in team management. They make a good tandem and work for women’s football, which was born not long ago, but which sails at cruising speed. Hopefully.)