90 minutes of vertigo start
Lola del Carril lives in one of the highest floors of a building in Recoleta. In the all white apartment highlights the pearlescent background of the official Qatar 2022 ball. It is framed in its original box. Lola has wet hair, sarter pants and a basic shirt. When she sees the photographer, she goes into her room to change and comes back dressed more formally, but without makeup. She closes the window a little to muffle the noise from the buses and other buildings. Her voice gains space. Lola speaks as she relates. A passionate style, she enhances her voice. Some jargon from the tribune mixed with educated quotes. A cocktail.
Lola is 23 years old, she is a social communicator, a former hockey player in CUBA and almost a professional in women’s soccer. In the future she will be a singer. For a few months she has been reporting football matches from international leagues, women’s football and hockey. But she hung the medal on the eighth date of the Professional League Cup when she became the first woman to narrate a game of the First Division of men’s soccer on television. The tie 2 to 2 between Central Córdoba-Huracán. For those who like the dates: it was the same one in which the VAR debuted in the First Division.
—What does it mean to occupy a place in the history of sports journalism?
—It is difficult for me to identify myself as the first First Division reporter and it even took me a long time to identify myself as a soccer reporter, but it is very nice to be part of history, of a high point of soccer and sports journalism in general, even more so if It is after opening paths and setting precedents. I know that also comes with pressure. I feel young to acquire that character of example or to be part of a milestone. What I try to understand is that my proper name simply symbolizes a much larger structural change and I have to run from there. If I have to put the body to exemplify it, welcome, but the important thing is that more and more women begin to occupy previously masculinized spaces.
We had seen women commentators, on the field of play, in charge of programs or on panels, but the story was a missing space, is what the game tells you, the most preponderant role in the transmission, and you have to start getting your ear used to society and people: that novel can be told by a woman. This, without a doubt, is going to open paths because it allows those who come to dream, because they can see it, they can materialize it, which is what did not happen to me two years ago. I didn’t turn on the TV and say I dream of doing that, of being a reporter, because you can’t dream of something that doesn’t live in your imagination.
Lola del Carril grabs a Diego Armando Maradona crochet doll. Photo Martin Bonetto.
—This historical place that you have to inhabit, do you live with pressure?
I feel one hundred percent responsible. Recently a girl told me: “I want to be like you when I grow up”. It’s a lot, what’s going on? I wanted to tell and all this happened. Yesterday I cried with emotion because with this interview that they are doing to me I was able to look directly at the things that are happening to me. I don’t know if I want to be an example because I already see that I step on a half-loose tile and the example goes to waste. But I do love being able to be part of those who are opening new paths and continuing the legacy of other colleagues who put their bodies in much more uncomfortable moments, moments in which paths had to be opened for pineapples, which I know had a hard time, like Angela Lerena, Viviana Vila. Hopefully we can open more masculinized spaces and, for example, get to relate to the Argentine National Team, which seems to be the untouchable niche.
It all happened in one day
Two years ago, when the pandemic started, Lola del Carril felt extremely frustrated. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games postponed due to coronavirus, they stopped calling her from ESPN to make notes on Las Leonas. No competitions, no training either. “I have no money, I have no job, I have nothing, what do I do?” And she started: press for a deputy, marketing for a food chain, search.
Everything changed one Friday when she was called to do a test as a panelist on the program High pressure of TyC Sports. He knew that to stay he had to impose himself (or shout louder). He prevailed and stayed. That same Friday they told him that he was returning to his job as a journalist at ESPN. Working in the media, she found out that Public TV was launching the first contest to find the best Argentine newscaster.
“I didn’t sign up for reality to see what’s up. I always had a lot of confidence in myself. I am competitive. I don’t do something if I know I’m going to lose.”
It is September 2021 and Lola del Carril is one of the three finalists of the Relatoras Argentinas program on Public TV. To define the competition, he has to recount Diego Maradona’s second goal against the English. Lola gets into the cabin. The driver, Mariano Peluffo, offers her a glass of water, but she says no. Lola did not experience the final of Mexico 86 -neither the semifinal of Italy 90 nor the World Cup in the United States 94, nor the one in France 98- but everything is in her head, and with her gaze fixed on the screen she puts together the of her own cosmic kite:
Maradona starts, begins to draw, stains on the right wing and paints the faces of three Englishmen. Now he does conquer the rival field with pure power and heart. If he makes this goal I die. He is hand in hand. Gooooooooal! I’m dying. Argentina’s goal, by Diego Armando Maradona, floating as if he were invisible from the middle of the field, dancing with his wife, with his ally the ball…
Peluffo opens an envelope and takes out the paper with the name of the winner. He says “Lola” in black fibrous. Lola bends her knees a little, covers her face and cries. She only lets go of her hands to grab her own golden trophy. Days later she was going to sign her first contract as a rapporteur.
—Did you question that a woman has to reach the stories through a reality show, a competition?
-The purpose was that one more woman was in the sports scene in a central role. I understand that it sounded weird, but many speakers came that way: competitions or contests. I understand that the idea of exposing ourselves to a competition between women to be able to narrate in a medium generates controversy, but the program set precedents because it forced other media to pay attention, listen to female voices, and that the channels themselves were born to give us opportunities. Argentine Rapporteurs put a topic on the agenda because it was innovative, disruptive and pioneering. Today I think Rapporteurs… It wasn’t a reality show, it was a school. It was all real, all on equal terms, and the bond with the jury was also real.
—How do you handle sexist criticism?
—I think it’s something deeper and more cultural, so I try not to take it personally, only that I have to be the first male rapporteur. At this point, I like a theory by Pierre Bourdieu: the avant-garde makes the hegemonic field uncomfortable and when we start asking for a plot in that field, there is resistance. There is a whole society used to hearing male voices narrating football, so obviously a woman’s voice is going to sound strange. In fact, it sounded strange to me: when she wanted to be a rapporteur she said “I wouldn’t listen to myself”. But it is a matter of habit. At some point it will cease to be the novelty, the “unnatural”.
Between poetry and the paddock
As the “ta-tan, ta-tan” of Walter Nelson, the “We already live, we feel, we enjoy” of Rodolfo De Paoli or the “I’m scared, baby” by Alejandro Apo, Lola del Carril also has her catchphrases. His trademark revolves around the idea of vertigo, which in his definition is an intense activity that takes place at a very fast speed or rhythm. Vertigo or the art of the story.
Lola says that before starting college in Olivos she had not thought about being a rapporteur, that she wanted to communicate. She did not care if she was on a radio, in a song or in a poem.
—How do you prepare to report the games?
“I practice at home. I put together a document with all the phases of the game. For example: I put ball circulation, two points, and all the words that I can use. Or corner, two points, and all the metaphors to name it such as “Lazio airlines play high”, “ball to the magic box”, “center to the restricted area”. I have a very good memory, but it is a matter of study. I sit down, I watch games of each of the teams that I have to narrate, I write down the context in which they arrive, the high points and the weak ones; if I know that there is someone who scores goals with his head, I mark how tall the player is, the statistics… What matters to me is to reduce the margin of error, so I also write down the color of the boots, the style of the haircut, how the player runs or moves, everything that narrows that margin because in the story everything happens in two seconds. I also put together some possible phrases, poetized or not, and when the goal comes I see which one I use. I prepare a lot.
—Could you define your storytelling style?
-They always charge me because I try to speak properly, have respect for the word. I think what I like the most is the most poetic or metaphorical sense of words, that’s what I trained for. So I like to make a fusion between soccer, the passion that makes you get up from the couch, and weave that passion with literary constructions that are not so connected to the world of soccer, as if it were a 90-minute novel. I am very passionate, it is what I am interested in highlighting, the temperament, getting the other to get up and live it with us. I think my thing is poetic football. But I also feel that it is too soon to define or pigeonhole myself. Each game is a pilot and there are hours of flight that give me more confidence and more style.
The rapporteur Lola del Carril with the official Qatar 2022 ball. Photo Martín Bonetto.
Lola treats the ball with affection. She always had it close to her. Fans of the same team, she started going to the stadiums as a child with her mother. She was also a girl when she had the opportunity to enter the court hand in hand with the players. The management of her was made by her father, at that time a producer in sports channels.
Lola takes the Qatar ball out of its original box. They say that it travels faster in the air than any other ball. But she seems to dominate the wind. She threatens to take off her boots, but no. She chains two, four, ten little games. She goes around the world. She picks her up and leaves her asleep on the back of her head.
—And now what are your dreams as a reporter?
“Go to Qatar!” And I have a very strong feeling: I think I’m going to tell it. That way, not to the Argentine National Team, but other games. Eye, I would also like to report a Champions League. I imagine having my headphones on and the Champions League anthem playing. And that’s it, I’m dying. I would also love to tell about the Libertadores. I hope that after crossing out these dreams, if life wants it, I can renew them to continue aspiring to more and thus motorize my path. The truth is that it is always good to dream.
It will be until the 90 minutes of vertigo find us again.