“We do not divide work into male or female, we support each other instead,” says a handball inspector Tadas Jansonas at the start of the conversation. He helps his wife Asta, a volleyball coach, in training, supports her during matches, and once he even substituted her at an important competition. The couple lives in the spirit of sports. Their son Romualdas has inherited this passion.
The Jansonai family’s typical day starts with a walk in fresh air with another beloved member of the family Zipas, a dog of the Shih Tzu breed. As soon as they return, Tadas hurries into the kitchen. The Referee in Chief of the Lithuanian Handball League and an Inspector of the European Handball Federation cooks breakfast for his wife and son every morning. He is very fond of experimenting in the kitchen; therefore he spends a considerable amount of time there in his free time from work.
Asta is a volleyball coach at Vilnius Sports School Tauras, the founder, Director and Head Coach of Vilnius Volleyball Center training both children and professionals. The woman acquired a degree in pedagogy at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences and has been working as a coach for the last twenty-five years. Her athlete students compete at both Lithuanian Women’s Volleyball Championship and international tournaments.
The 15-year-old Romualdas has also fully submerged himself in sports. Although the parents named their son after Tadas’ father Romualdas Jansonas, who was a Lithuanian handball legend, the young man’s heart was, however, captivated by football. He is a promising athlete student at the Football Academy Žalgirietis.
“Sport has always occupied a huge part of our lives. I even remember that when we decided to get married, we went to the civil registry office and were able to find only one free date that suited both Asta and me. It was only when left that we realised that it was the Easter weekend, that is why we did not have any competitions that weekend. This is why we got married at Easter. That’s what our daily life looks like, ” Mr. Jansonas shared their memories.
The story of the Jansonai family is the fifth and final part of the HeForShe campaign initiated by the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania (LNOC). The objective of this United Nations project is to invite men to show their solidarity with women and, together with them, actively aspire for equal gender opportunities and be a united and visible driving force of change.
Substituted at a Competition
The birth of their son Romualdas 15 years ago coincided with another major event for Asta – the Youth (under 23) European Championship. With Asta being in the last weeks of pregnancy, Tadas, a handball referee, led his wife’s athlete students to the Beach Volleyball Championship in Poland. Among twenty four participants, Ms. Jansonienė’s students took the ninth place.
“It was extremely important for my wife, therefore I had to go. Back in those days, a coach could not do anything during a match at beach volleyball youth competitions but sit in the viewing stand and watch. The girls were prepared, therefore all they needed there was mostly psychological support. Meanwhile, we were constantly in touch with Asta, we kept discussing thing,” Mr. Jansonas shared their memories.
The husband has always encouraged his wife to excel in sports and aspire for her goals. With Tadas’ help, the woman returned to work only four months after giving birth.
“If Asta had an important match, I would stay and take care of our son. When I needed to leave, my wife would stay. We have never divided work into male or female. These were the pre-determined life conditions and we accepted them,” Mr. Jansonas remembered.
Two people looking in the same direction and supporting each other is a huge advantage, especially when it comes to balancing family and professional needs. “If my better half did not understand me, I’m not sure if I could live with someone like that. I love my work very much, therefore I cannot imagine my daily routine without the understanding and support of my husband.
Yes, perhaps it would be difficult for someone else to understand why I am away from home for eight weekends in a row, but I think we should all understand why things are so important for someone. This is the specificity of my work and I am glad that my husband understands that.
I know there are women who have to maneuver between all of this, and it is very difficult to do. In the long run, something suffers – either the relationship inside the family or the quality of you work,“ Asta was considering.
Life Is Not Only About Results
“I am sure that life is not just about aspiring for a result. Human relationships mattter much more,” Tadas said.
All members of the Jansonai family emphasise that their loved ones’ support and encouragement in such a busy daily life is extremely important.
“When I sometimes get lazy, my parents remind me that I do everything for my own self and for my improvement. I feel their immediate support and I always support both my mom and dad in any situation,” said Romualdas.
Asta feels proud of having her husband and son as people whom she can lean against for support. In her immediate environment, she has encountered a number families with the prevailing stereotypical attitude toward family life, and where the woman is required to abandon the activities she loves.
“I understand very well that the husband can also have very busy weekends, but it is very important to think through all possible alternatives. Whatever it is, you live with your loved one and you hope that he will always give you a helping hand.
I would like to wish courage to those women who lack family support. If you want something very much and you think that you will be happier when aspiring for your goal, then you should definitely strive for it. The partner will eventually either understand or fail to understand. If he fails to do that, maybe he is not the right better half?
Actually, I think I have been very lucky. I have a husband and son beside me who support me very much, therefore we are all very happy in sports. We do experience occasional moments of sadness together, but afterwards continue striving for common goals. I wish everybody has that,” Ms. Jansonienė said.
HeForShe is a project launched by the United Nations organisation to promote gender equality. In 2014, the campaign was launched with a famous speech by actress Emma Watson at the United Nations headquarters in New York about her way towards feminism and her call to include boys and men in striving for gender equality. Within three days, 100 thousand men joined the campaign, including the former US President Barack Obama.