María Rodríguez Antón, Jorge Gomez Cornejo Díaz, and Íñigo Azpilicueta are basketball fans and workmates. Together they welcome the Department of Equality and Social Engagement to tell them that they would like to form a mixed basketball team made up of company employees. Loyal to their commitment to equality, the Department backed internal communications among its employees to increase the number of members, and decided to sponsor the team’s entire outfitting. This is how María and Íñigo tell the story:

Part of Urbaser’s basketball team in Madrid.

How did the idea of forming a mixed basketball team at Urbaser arise?

María Rodríguez Antón, an Energy Technician in Urbaser’s Technical Treatment Department: Various colleagues from the Treatment Department and I had played basketball before. About a year ago, we started getting together to play “pickup games”, and then the idea came up to join a league. For us, it was completely normal to create a mixed team so that we could all participate.

Íñigo Azpilicueta, Bid Technician at Urbaser:
As María says, various colleagues from the Technical Office had been playing against each other in friendly games. We wanted to give more continuity to that, so we decided to sign up for a league that would force us to play more regularly. Since men and woman played together indiscriminately in the pickup games, forming a team in the league where everyone could join in seemed natural to us.

Did you face any challenges forming the team?
M: Even though we initially found women that were excited to play, there were some challenges when it came time to form a team. Today, we make up 40% of the team, and we haven’t had to post-pone any game to date for that reason.

I: There are fewer mixed leagues than leagues that are divided by sex, and the few mixed leagues that we know require a minimum number of women on the court at all times. That’s not just for us, but for all teams participating. This requirement is hard to meet, since there tend to be far fewer women than men signed up.

What do you think is the benefit of being a mixed team, and not exclusively male or female?

M: Given that the friendly games we played together were mixed from the start, the fact that we can participate in a mixed league has allowed us to avoid excluding someone because of their gender.

I: More than an advantage, it just came naturally, especially for a team like ours that is made up of employees from a company that is pretty evenly comprised of men and women. That can also be an advantage if there are few participants. It might have been impossible to create a male or female team, but together, we are able to have enough people interested to form a mixed team (that would apply more if there wasn’t a gender-based limit for players on the court at any given time).

Tell me about the league you play in. Are there more companies, or is it more groups of friends?

I: We play in the Freebasket league, which is organised by the Madrid Basketball Federation. The category we play in, the mixed division, is mainly comprised of teams of friends, except for the Estudiantes Las Tablas school team. You can find company teams both in the male division and the female division, but we can honestly say that Urbaser stands out for its participation in the mixed division.

M: It started last October 16th with a new participation record of 93 teams (72 male, 8 female, and 13 mixed) and will end in March of this year. Each team has a guaranteed 18 games from October through March.

What expectations do you have for this league?

M: From the beginning, our main motivation for participating in this league has been to have fun with our colleagues while also getting regular exercise. It’s true that when we play we are competitive, but what we are really looking for is for everyone to participate and have a good time. We are holding on to a ranking at the middle of the pack, and we are happy with that. Given the success this year, the idea is to continue on next year with even more Urbaser employees. Why not?

I: Since even before we signed up for the league, our goal when playing friendly games was to have a good time with colleagues and friends, get some exercise, meet people, and strengthen existing relationships, all while looking out for our health. In terms of results, the league is well adapted to our characteristics, and the results will get better as we get to know each other more and continue to get in sync, finishing at the middle of the table.

*María, Jorge, and Íñigo have managed to put together a 19-person team for the 2017-2018 season (12 boys and 7 girls) that can grow if anyone is interested in enjoying this sport together with their colleagues. If interested, contact Íñigo: