The assistant to Fiji rugby at IE University

@Roberto Arribas

Ignacio Llopis, Dual Degree student in Business Administration and International Relations

One sunny day in Rio in August 2016, Ignacio Llopis arrived at a fork in the road, and didn’t know which way to turn. A huge rugby fan, at that moment he was watching the match between the Spanish rugby team, Las Leonas, and Fiji, the team where this young Spaniard was working as an assistant and for whom he felt a strong attachment after living together with them for several days in the Olympic Village.  In the end, Spain received an Olympic Diploma of Merit for their last match of the tournament, where they defeated Fiji, 21-0.

This young 20-year old Spaniard, born in Barcelona to Valencian parents, considers that month working as a volunteer at the Olympic Games as one of the greatest experiences of his life.  Apart from experiencing the Olympic Games in such a special country like Brazil, he was also able to combine several of his passions: his love of rugby, altruism, and practicing the four languages that he has mastered.

Photo by: Roberto Arribas

At the Olympics, Ignacio got “signed” as a volunteer for the Fiji team, thanks to his unquestionable love of rugby and his great aptitude for languages. During the competition he was a reliable translator and an excellent guide for the women of the Fiji team, since he knew the city of Rio de Janeiro so well after living in Brazil for several years with his family.  “In the Olympic Village I was able to meet great athletes like Usain Bolt, Pau Gasol, Michael Phelps, and Rafa Nadal,” says Ignacio with a grin.

Now back in Spain, Ignacio Llopis has left competitive rugby behind… but not entirely. He’s part of the IE University rugby team, and they practice every so often in the town of La Lastrilla on the outskirts of Segovia.   Back in Madrid he and his former team finished top of the local league, and ranked third in the National Championship during the 2014/2015 season. He’s since left behind the demands of competing in large championships. He gave up pursuing professional rugby to dedicate all of his time to his studies.  When it came to choosing a university, the choice was clear: he wanted to study at the IE University campus in Segovia, where he is currently in his second year of the Dual Degree program in Business Administration and International Relations.

Ignacio Llopis has had a truly interesting life. Despite being so young, he has lived in six different cities. Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza, the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo, and now, Segovia. In addition, he speaks four languages fluently (Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese), and has studied two more (Italian and German). He’s visited more than 35 countries in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Ironically, he feels truly comfortable in Segovia, a city with scarcely 50,000 citizens that could have seemed too small for him. “With total honesty, I’m very happy with my decision to come to Segovia. Perhaps what hurt most was leaving behind my rugby club in Madrid,” he says.

IE University, his first choice

Ignacio was interested in IE University after seeing various international rankings that place IE University as one of the best higher education institutions in the world. “IE University was always my first choice; the university offered me more than the Dual Degree in Business Administration and International Relations. I wanted to study at a university in English in order to continue improving my language skills, and live in Spain for a while longer,” he explains.

What I liked most about the teaching methodology at IE University is how practical it is,” emphasizes Ignacio, who believes that “the best way to learn is through practice, as it allows you to verify and consolidate your theoretical knowledge.” He assures us that it is a privilege to share classes with students from all over the world, and adds that in the debates in the classroom, where there are students from up to 15 different nationalities, “you can find all kinds of perspectives, ideologies, and opinions.”

At university Ignacio isn’t a passive student, on the contrary. Besides dedicating a large part of his day to studying, he is a part of the IE Marketing team, which manages the university’s Snapchat account. He is also a member of the Philanthropy Club, and has contributed to a number of initiatives, such as creating a charity calendar in which his teammates from the Rugby club also participated.

Besides being a good sportsman—he also practices scuba diving when time allows—Ignacio is a socially committed individual: for two consecutive years he spent a month volunteering for an NGO in the Brazilian Amazon that aims to improve the health conditions of the local population. “We opened wells to facilitate access to drinking water for various villages in the Amazon,” says Ignacio, who notes that the experience made a positive impact on him. “I’m very grateful for that experience, it really opens your mind and you realize how important it is to help those less fortunate than you,” he adds.

Regarding his future, this IE University student is still unsure. He feels a strong pull towards entrepreneurship, and would love to start a company or project related to the subjects he’s studying here in Segovia. “I’d like to continue traveling and soaking up other cultures, that’s what I really want to do,” he says. For the time being, Ignacio is enjoying his time in Segovia—“I love visiting the Real Sitio or walking around the Pontón Alto reservoir”—and training with his rugby team. The sport is truly his greatest passion, and he will continue practicing it wherever his path leads him, in whatever part of the world.