|07 February 2006|
By Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA Sport
Opportunities for Spanish international Elisa Aguilar and other female basketballers are far greater than they used to be - but there is still a long way to go.
Aguilar, whose superb performances for Ros Casares have won her a place in the EuroLeague Women All-Star Game on March 8, says the women's game still suffers from a lack of media exposure and is hoping the launch of 'The Year Of Women's Basketball' initiative by FIBA Europe will bring some changes.
"It's definitely a problem we face, the fact that we get little coverage by the media and it doesn't help our games," Aguilar told PA Sport.
"In many ways, women's basketball is still considered an amateur sport and I think the FIBA Europe project may help us make it professional."
"It (Year of Women's Basketball) is a good project that will give a boost to women's basketball.
"I hope federations and institutions join in this project and support what is a good initiative."
The EuroLeague Women All-Star Game will feature a team of European All-Stars, including Aguilar, against a Rest of the World team.
"I am very happy to have been selected by fans. It will be a great experience to play with the best players in the EuroLeague.
"It makes me very proud to be a part of this game and represent Ros Casares, considering that the players were selected by votes."
Aguilar comes from an athletic background, so it's unsurprising she has pursued a life in sport.
"I started playing basketball at school even though football was the dominant sport," she said. "I come from a family of sportsmen with my dad and my brothers having played football.
"My mother believed football was a sport for boys and not for girls, so I chose basketball instead."
The media exposure is crucial in order for others to follow in Aguilar's footsteps.
Women's sports, with tennis possibly the lone exception, have never received the same kind of coverage as men's sports.
"We are currently involved in a collective pact between clubs in Spain and the players to make our situation fully professional, like any other worker.
"We don't earn as much money as the men do in this sport so we do have to think about our futures.
Aguilar recognises that some positive progress has been made since her early playing days.
"I like to compete and I think now it's easier than it was back when I started to play the game.
"Now it is better seen for a woman to play sports and I think this is a message that, with the help of organisations and media, we have to put
"If we get youngsters to play basketball or other sports, we are doing something good for them. It will avoid them doing other things such as being involved with drugs."