With ‘Las Lobas’, hockey is in prisons ‘to build a better society’

The “Las Lobas” team, ready for action. (Photo: Eliana Obregón)

Considered by its protagonists as “a dream come true”, the female hockey team of San Martín Penitentiary Unit 46, “Las Lobas”, inaugurated its first synthetic field within the framework of the Cuidá la Bocha project, an initiative that for two years has brought this sport closer to women in confinement contexts.

Promoting sport as a tool for social transformation is the main objective of Cuidà la Bocha, a project created by five female hockey players from different clubs in Buenos Aires, who seek to “change their gaze in order to build a slightly better society.”

Since 2019, around 60 women between 18 and 35 years old who are deprived of their liberty have been trained once a week in the Prison Unit 46, which for some years has been home to both women and men.

Interviewed by Télam during the opening of the field, Macarena and Loana, two players from the Las Lobas team, expressed their “great joy” at being able to have this space of their own.

“We won a space where we can move, be outdoors and play sports here, how well it does us”, expressed Macarena, one of the first players to join Las Lobas, who is also a benchmark for its flag.

The almost 30-year-old player recalled that, during the confinement, all of them had critical moments “of great sadness” and that hockey training was a place where they could “clear their heads and have fun.”

The small synthetic grass field of UP 46 is a huge advance for the practice of hockey Photo Eliana Obregn
The small synthetic turf court on UP 46 is a huge advance for hockey practice. (Photo: Eliana Obregón).

At this point she was accompanied by Loana, for whom lately the “anxiety” for the few months remaining in her sentence makes each day “seem like a year”, but the dreams she has for when she regains her freedom, including giving classes in hockey in her neighborhood, they keep her expectant and active.

The Cuidà la Bocha project emerged in 2019 At the initiative of María Paz Rodríguez Senese and Florencia Fernández Prato, both players from the Club Atlético de San Isidro, who were quickly joined by Clara Badano, from the same club, Helga Tartari and Andrea D’allaglio, from San Fernando and Banco Nación respectively.

“This field is the opportunity for them to be able to dream and to be able to do the activity without having to get muddy up to their heads in the penalty area, put their foot in a well or take the ball out of a sewer,” María Paz told Télam , who is also a juvenile criminal defender.

Despite the midday heat that was intensified by the huge walls with barbed wire, around a score of women -the rest had to participate in the delivery of diplomas for the completion of a workshop, high school or university- they got together to celebrate the “dream come true” of having a field, in a day of “picaditos” and dancing.

“We challenged the limits of taking a sport that is played with sticks to a jail and the reception was very good from the first day, not only from the girls, but from the Prison Service that the more they know about our work, the more predisposed they are,” added the coach. .

Before the pandemic, which stopped the activity for a few months but not the contact between them, the players had a series of friendly matches both inside and outside the prison complex with different clubs in the area, which allowed many of them “to see the street again for the first time in years”.

For Los Lobas, hockey training sessions are a place where they can clear their heads and have fun Photo Eliana Obregn
For “Los Lobas”, hockey practice is a place where you can “clear your head and have fun.” (Photo: Eliana Obregón)

During the friendly days that they now resumed, traveling handcuffed and accompanied by policemen in the groups of the Buenos Aires Penitentiary Service is the prelude to a moment in which the feeling of freedom reigns in each one of them.

For Macarena, Loana and all Las Lobas it is “beautiful” to be able to go out and play, especially since their families can go see them and then share what is called the “third half”, a meeting between both teams and their families.

“It makes me happy that my family sees me play and improve more and more”Macarena said and smiling before two of her pavilion companions, she assured that “she is one of the best”.

“It is a stroke of reality and humanity. We really believe that it is a huge transformation for everyone,” said coach Florencia, who is a specialist in applied neuroscience in sports.

Likewise, he anticipated that the objective is to soon join the Provincial Inter-prison Women’s Hockey Tournament, in which teams from the units of La Plata, Los Hornos, Batán, among others, participate.

“Can doing sports makes them embrace a lot of values that are experienced when one is part of a team, such as commitment and respect, which can then be transferred from sport to life, “said Helga, for whom the recently opened court is an example of” a true job team up”.

Once a week the girls of the UP46 receive classes from experienced athletes Photo Eliana Obregn
Once a week, the girls from UP46 receive classes from experienced athletes. (Photo: Eliana Obregón)

Their families participated in its management, especially Helga’s husband, Agustín Beccar Varela, who together with the rugby team from the same prison complex, Los Espartanos, They were able to set up the field with the donations received and the work of some players and their families, such as Ivana, who from the penalty spot finished the netting of the bows that her mother made.

The coaches agreed that sport is “an excuse” to be able to “stop and look at these women in a confinement context” and to be able to create this bond with them, from which they were able to understand that “they are not their crime, but rather they are mothers, daughters, friends, who should be regarded as such “.

“When we look at another with love then that person has the capacity to be better. When they are not looked at, when it seems that ‘no one cares’ it does not matter to be or to do anything,” reflected Helga.

The transformation they are aiming for goes “beyond these walls”: like Nanci Herrera, an ex-wolf who replicated the project in her Carlos Gardel neighborhood in Morón, many of the players today yearn to be able to bring this sport to their communities once may they regain their freedom.

For it, Cuidà la Bocha accompanies them with the Lead Project, an “extramural” accompaniment with which they aim for these women to become “sports references in their neighborhoods” and to have a job opportunity and, in turn, to contain and protect children and adolescents from “the risks of the street”.

“The results are being very positive and it comforts us a lot. We believe that we are in the right place to change certain things that as a society are not well,” concluded the coaches.

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With ‘Las Lobas’, hockey is in prisons ‘to build a better society’

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