Sportswomen of the Year 2014 – and the winner is…

Somehow it has already been a full year since the last Sportswoman of the Year Awards as last Wednesday the stars of the women’s sporting world headed to the Sky Sports Studios for the 2014 ceremony.

Up for the Sportswoman crowd this year was Skeleton gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold, European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, Dressage legend Charlotte Dujardin, swimming golden girl Fran Halsall, Squash World champion Laura Massaro and far-too-many-accolades-to-already-to-mention cyclist Joanna Roswell.  All worthy winners with some amazing World, European and Commonwealth titles between them, however it was Dujardin who cantered (sorry) away with the trophy after another stellar year in the dressage arena on the beautiful Valegro. Dujardin is now the first person in the history of the sport who has ever come even close to winning the full set of individual elite titles, something that makes her a worthy winner.

The other winners on the night were 23 year old swimmer Stephanie Slater who was crowned Disability Sportwoman of the Year, Claudia Fragapane, the present and future of Team GB gymnastics who won Young Sportswoman of the Year, whilst team of the year went to the World Cup winning England’s Women’s rugby squad.  There were also awards for Sue Frett who won the Community Award for her dedication to the Surrey branch of the Special Olympics (SOS) and Mel Woodwards who received the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration. Louise Martin won the Lifetime Achievement award for her work in making Glasgow 2014 a success.


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Is there a male equivalent?

The Commonwealth Games have arrived!  For 11 days the greatest athletes from across the Commonwealth (an association of sovereign states that the British Empire once claimed as their own with no real authority to do so) will run, jump, swim, cycle, netball and lawn bowls their way to greatness (To clarify, there are many other sports happening at the games too, the full list can be found here).  It’s also another chance for female athletes to prove their skill, strength and sporting prowess to the world and hopefully claim the column inches of the sports section that they deserve.

There’s obviously been pre-games build up in the papers, with  interviews, features and articles about some of this fair British isles’ biggest medal hopes.  Up until Monday when she had to pull out of the games due to a foot injury, Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson was England’s golden hope for these Games.  With no JEnnis-Hill and a blinding season so far, KJT looked set to lead the field and possibly top the podium and so it made sense that The Sunday Times would run an interview with her. I know the phrase is bandied about all over the shop all the time, however with personality, skill and the determination to become a gold medal winner KJT is a pretty good role model for young women and so makes for a great interview subject.  However, she is also a professional athlete.  So why, oh why did The ST decide that an American-Beauty-esque-meet-English-Rose accompanying photo would be a good idea?



Firstly, this makes no sense.  If they were going for an American Beauty type image, then why?  It’s a film about a man who is having such an epically huge midlife crisis he develops an infatuation with his teenage daughter’s best friend.  How does this relate to a heptathlon? Or winning gold medals? Or even winning at all as it really doesn’t end well for Kevin Spacey.  AND America isn’t even part of the Commonwealth.  But more importantly, have any of the male athletes be made to also pose in such a way?

Yes, sports women need more media coverage, but they also need to be taken seriously. How many of the male medal hopefuls would be asked to bed down amongst some flowers for a photoshoot to accompany an article about how they’re going to smash the competition out the park ? Or dress up as Britannian herself a la Victoria Pendleton before London 2012? (I’m aware there’s a lot of questions be asked in this post but I’m proving a point) Yes KJT agreed to it, but she shouldn’t have been asked.



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Women’s cricket changes gear


Women’s cricket looks to be setting a sponsorship precedent for women’s sport with the announcement today that the ECB have secured a two year deal with KIA for the women’s team.  This is the first time there’s ever been a standalone sponsorship contract for England’s female team, making it a historic, as well as welcome move.

This new deal shows the momentum behind the women’s game at the moment.  With the realisation finally that Charlotte Edwards et al are a strong and competition winning squad, media coverage has increased thanks to Sky and BBC Radio covering many of the matches, which in turn has brought more exposure, which in turn has led to a prominent sponsorship move. Isn’t it amazing what possibilities become open to teams when the media actually cover their games.

So congrats to the England Women’s team, role models not only for the game itself, but for what happens when the media starts to take women’s sport seriously.

And if you’d like to catch the women in action this summer:

Opposition Date Format Venue
India Women 13.8.14 – 16.8.14 Kia Women’s Test Match Wormsley Cricket Ground
India Women 21.8.14 1st Royal London ODI Scarborough Cricket Club
India Women 23.8.14 2nd Royal London ODI Scarborough Cricket Club
India Women 25.8.14 3rd Royal London ODI Lord’s Cricket Ground
South Africa Women 1.9.14 1st NatWest T20I The Essex County Ground, Chelmsford
South Africa Women 3.9.14 2nd NatWest T20I The County Ground, Northampton
South Africa Women 7.9.14 3rd NatWest T20I Edgbaston



Goals for Girls: A story of women with balls

afiche_ENIn the run up to the World Cup 2014 Amnesty International are running ‘Behind the Lines’, a football film festival out in happy old Hackney.  From 6th-8th June Hackney Picture House will be screening thought provoking Football documentaries and panel discussions focusing on the social and political aspects of the beautiful game, looking at the importance of football off the pitch and away from the stadiums.

My ticket is already booked for ‘Goals for Girls: A story of women with balls‘, a documentary looking into the marginalised world of women’s football in Argentina.  The documentary follows the story of young women from the Villa 31 shanty town as they aim to defy society and take part in the Homeless World Cup, looking at the barriers preventing girls from taking part in one of their nation’s biggest sports.  The film is then followed up by a panel discussion with the likes of Sarah Jane Mee and Anna Kessel as well as one of the film’s directors, Ginger Gentile, as they debate all aspects of women’s football.  Should be good!

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Hello old friend

Ah it has been a while.  A while filled with essay deadlines, exam revision, listless staring out of windows and generally wanting to do everything but the task in hand.  It turns out that when it comes to studying you do not grow more accepting with age, just crankier and more in denial.

However now we’re on to the fun stuff, and by fun stuff I mean my dissertation.  Not everyone’s description of fun I know, but having got my lecturers to agree to my title on Sport for Development I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth sunk into it.  It also means I may have time to actually get some blogging done too, there’s about 101 things I’m meant to have written on over the last few months.  So I should probably get cracking…