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Empowering more women into sport


Dr Ally Forbes, Sport Business Management Programme Leader, blogs about empowering more women to get involved in sport in the run-up to our first female takeover event.

What a year it has been for women’s sport! Last summer’s historic triumph for the England Lionesses saw them winning the UEFA European Women’s Championship at Wembley in front of a record-breaking crowd for ANY European Championship football match against old foes Germany. This week the Lionesses retained the Arnold Clarke Cup with a comfortable 6-1 victory over Belgium in the final game. They prepare to head off down under to see if they can translate their title as European Champions to World Champions, at the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand later this year.

Last year’s success for the Lionesses has driven up interest and engagement with women’s football, with record attendances announced in the first two weeks of the Barclays Women’s Super League, including 47,367 witnessing Arsenal’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby. Away from football, further records were broken. Over two million viewers tuned into the Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall fight in October, making that the most-watched women’s professional boxing event in history. Earlier in February, the Women’s Premier League (the women’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League) auction took place, with England’s Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone earning themselves six-figure deals.  England are progressing well in the T20 Cricket World Cup, currently taking place in South Africa. They will play the hosts for a place in the final, against either Australia or India.   

It’s great to see opportunities for girls to get involved in sport growing, and the infrastructure around women’s sport improving significantly. Professional female athletes are calling for increased commercial investment and visibility to keep building the momentum surrounding women’s sport to engage and inspire the next generation of athletes. That’s not to say there is no work to do though. In January, Icelandic international footballer Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir won a landmark maternity pay case against former club Lyon, who had violated FIFA’s rules protecting maternity rights for professional players. The Canadian women’s football team have also made recent headlines, calling on Canada Soccer to provide reasonable and equal compensation and working conditions.

On a personal level, I am a real advocate for encouraging more women into sports, whether that’s to play or to work. I’ve forged friendships for life through my involvement in playing football, and have a career that I’ve been able to shape around my sporting interests.  Although firmly in the veteran category now, I’m hoping to play football for as many more seasons as my body will allow, as I know the physical, mental, and social benefits that being involved in a team has provided me. I’d encourage all women and girls to get involved in sport or physical activity, and I’m excited about what the future holds for women’s sport.

2022 was a game changer, let’s see what 2023 can bring.  

If you’re a female interested in getting involved in sport or looking to boost your physical activity, come long to the University's first Female Takeover event on Saturday 25 February.

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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