In case you didn’t know the Fifa Women’s World Cup is currently taking place on the other side of the world, in Australia and New Zealand. And if you didn’t know, where have you been hiding?! With 32 countries taking part, this is a fantastic opportunity for women’s football to take centre stage. Excitement is building as obviously England are playing (COME ON!) Also world class teams like the USA, Germany and Sweden to name but a few.
Now, I’ll admit that my small person isn’t massively football obsessed. Rather frustratingly she’s very much on the fence when it comes to sport, frustrating because she is good at most things she turns her hand to – unlike her mother, who wears the clumsy crown apparently. However, we feel sport is important and want her to see lots of women’s sport being played, so the matches have been on TV every day. We were lucky enough to take her to the women’s FA Cup final in 2022 and the recent TikTok rugby six nations. Both with family friendly atmospheres, nail biting action and showcasing incredible talent. But watching this current World Cup, what can I hope that she might take away from it?
A recent post on LinkedIn caught my interest. It was titled, ‘All change. Is it time to review women’s sports kit?’ Reading as a woman who has felt very uncomfortable at times in her sports attire (see below for my rant on skorts) this hit a nerve. I’ve been seeing more on this conversation over the past few years which is great, but on the flipside, it’s crazy that it’s 2022 and this is even a discussion at all. From whether or not elite hockey players should have to wear the dreaded skort, to Wimbledon and England football players having to conform to the all-white kit, (the thought of wearing white and getting your period just raises anxiety levels) So could a simple thing like what you have to wear, stop a girl from even taking part in sport the first place?
Hot off the back of the Rio Olympics and Hockey is still basking in the limelight. The nineteen ladies chosen to represent Great Britain hit a nerve with the UK public, finding themselves the heroines of an unbelievable fairy-tale that had the nation hooked. The Gold medal final was watched by nine million people, nine million, that’s an amazing amount for a sport that has taken a bit of a back seat until now. After we won Bronze at the London Olympics, hockey funding went up, and the participation of women in sport went up by 25%. We can only wait and see what the Rio effect will be, but I think it’s safe to say that as far as hockey is concerned, it will be a positive one. Those nineteen women had a shared goal (aside from winning Gold that is) and that was that they wanted to, ‘inspire the next generation‘. My club, Old Cranleighans started it’s junior section (Colts) nearly five years ago with just fifty children. They now count nearly three hundred mini-players. I caught up our Ladies Club Captain Helen Hawes, who helps coach the Colts, to find out more about it.
My love for team sport started about eight years ago. I played various sports at school and thoroughly enjoyed them all, but went through a rather lazy period in my teens, and gave up everything bar lifting a drink or cigarette to my mouth. Luckily when I hit my mid-twenties, my rather rotund frame got me realising that I needed to get fit and I started running. When I then got together with my husband, I knew he played hockey but thought very little of it, other than it frustrated me that it seemed to take up his entire Saturday and involved a lot of beer afterwards. This didn’t fit in with my new couples plan of, ‘spend Saturday’s lazing around, reading newspapers, lunching, planning our future, etc’. I found myself a ‘Sports Widow’ and spent most Saturdays bored and alone. So, a decision was made, I decided to start playing a team sport and given there are two popular clubs near where we live, I chose hockey. It was time to dust off my old wooden stick.
Tomorrow is the big day, it’s Royal Parks half marathon time. I wont beat around the bush, I’m cacking it slightly as my training hasn’t gone quite to plan. Okay let me re-phrase that, it hasn’t gone to plan at all!! It started off so well and positively, that back in July I easily hit the eight mile mark, yay go me! I was feeling pretty smug I have to tell you, half/smarf marathon, easy peasy I was thinking. All I needed to do was sustain the eight miles and push a bit more over September then I’d be there, but a family holiday with much cheese, bread and more wine that you could shake a big wine stick at got in the way and well, my body just gave up! It’s quite frankly been a struggle even hitting five miles since that holiday (I blame France!) and my knees are all but knackered, but tomorrow sees me attempting 13.1 miles, taking in the lovely sights of London town.
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