WOMEN’S SPORT TRUST LAUNCH: Every dream begins with a dreamer

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Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon – GOLD), Gemma Gibbons (Judo – SILVER), Laura Robson (Tennis – SILVER), Nicola Adams (Boxing – GOLD), Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins (Rowing – GOLD) – just some of a few inspirational women who are changing the landscape of women’s sport forever.  Now recognised as not only Olympic heroes, but real sporting legends. 

STRENGTH, DETERMINATION and HARD GRAFT breeds success

The proof that ‘girl power’ does exist was transparent on the evening of Tuesday 2nd July 2013, both special and exciting, as it saw the launch of the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) kindly supported by Accenture, who were generous enough to give use of their venue to hold the long awaited drinks reception.  The WST is a grassroots movement of ordinary people and progressive organisations supporting women in sport.  It is a grant giving body committed to raising the profile and changing the perception of women’s sport within the UK.

The WST aims are to increase:

  • Spectatorship
  • Media Coverage
  • Participation
  • Visibility role models

The founders of this valuable organisation are two very highly motivated and dedicated women: Tammy Parlour and Jo Bostock.

Tammy Parlour Tammy Parlour is a 4th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Hapkido, having practiced for over 30 years.  She founded Chang’s Hapkido Academy UK, a full-time martial arts and meditation school in central London.  Tammy specialises in the relationship between martial arts and personal development. She has written a book on meditation, lectures at organisations like The Wellcome Trust, and is doing a part-time MSc in Strength and Conditioning: “I am embarrassed to admit that it’s not until recently that I ever fully considered the impact of being a sportswoman in a predominately male environment. I have dedicated my life to practising and teaching a martial art and had never really openly considered my gender”.

On London 2012: “The Olympics changed me. I came out! I am a full-time female sports person, and the strength, the dedication and the perseverance of other female athletes inspires me. I don’t want to lose that; I don’t want to go back to a world full of men’s football.  This is why I founded Women’s Sport Trust – but the concept will only work if we all get involved.”

Jo Bostock Jo Bostock is the founder of Pause Consultancy, a leadership development business that focuses on how to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.  She is also an Associate Director at Stonewall and has recently conducted research into the value of diverse role models.  She specialises in gender in the workplace through coaching senior women and running events and conferences like Opportunities for Women.

DIVERSE ROLE MODELS ARE CRUCIAL

“The main driver for my involvement in the Women’s Sport Trust is a determination to create more opportunities for women and girls to engage in sport if they want to.  When women can’t see other women actively participating in sport, getting funded to do so and receiving media coverage when they excel – that’s a problem”.

On visible diverse role models: “I am also utterly convinced about the value and importance of visible, diverse role models. They send a message about what is possible, the different ways you can look and the range of ways of being successful.  I am excited about the potential for the Women’s Sport Trust to actively support the emergence of strong female role models through access to funding”.

On a personal note: “Whilst I love my job, my head can get fried and the rest of my body feel somewhat neglected.  The squash court is where I go to reconnect, re-energise and be myself.   I love watching and playing sport but don’t love that it can be infernally difficult to even read about women playing sport, never mind see it live.  I hope that the Women’s Sport Trust will help to change this.”

In addition to Tammy and Jo, the trust is run by a board of volunteer trustees who work in various aspects of sport and business.  These include: Sue Day – Treasurer (Former England and Wasps Rugby Player); Lynsey Hooper (Freelance Sport Broadcaster); Abba Newbery (Director of Strategy at News International); Sarah Odell (Senior Manager at Accenture); Sue Anstiss (Founder and MD of ‘Promote’) and Emily Cushion (Strength and Conditioning coach, English Institute of Sport/Team GB Badminton).

SUPPORT ALL WOMEN PIONEERS

A small number of patrons will be aiding to shape thinking and raise the profile of the trust.  The WST are fortunate to have the support of Anna Watkins MBE and Kelly Smith MBE – both leading women within their respective sport fields.  At the launch reception we were graced with the presence of Anna Watkins, 2012 Olympic rowing champion and two time world champion.  Anna spoke of her inspiring journey into and through the sport upon achieving OLYMPIC GOLD and is excited about helping the WST:

“I’m thrilled to be helping the Women’s Sport Trust with their hugely important challenge of getting more women charging along the path to sporting success. I know that female athletes still have gender specific challenges to overcome; whilst some sports are leading the way with equal funding and recognition, all too many lag far behind.  We need to support the women pioneering the way. I’ve been lucky to be in a sport with a strong and well-funded women’s team, let’s make sure the next generation of athletic women don’t need to be lucky to achieve their dreams.”

Patron Kelly Smith (Arsenal Ladies and England Women) was away on International duties where the England Women’s football team begin their quest in the European Championship taking place in Sweden.  She is as equally excited to be involved with the trust:  “I am really excited to be involved and support Women’s Sport Trust. They are a fantastic organisation supporting women in all sports. Since the success of the Olympics many female athletes are now household names and young girls can have female role models and strive to be just like them. There has been a massive shift to see more of women’s sport on TV and a big push to gain more coverage in the press and radio and rightly so. I hope we can continue to get more women/girls into sport and enjoy more sporting success in the future.” I wish Kelly and the England Women’s football team all the very best for the Euros.

Kelly Smith_1

Kelly Smith

Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger, rowing

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins

Trustees of the trust will be supported by a Grants Board consisting of leaders of prominent women’s sport organisations, female athletes and other influential individuals.  The Grants Board is responsible for short-listing grant applications.  This shortlist is then circulated to the trust donors so they can vote on where they want their money to go.  I am privileged to have been asked to sit on the Grants Board and am really looking forward to being part of something very special:

“I am extremely excited to be part of the Women’s Sport Trust Grants Board, and was delighted to have been asked to be involved in such a fantastic cause. Being a keen sportswoman myself, especially football, it will give me the opportunity to help and support those from all backgrounds, in particular BME, to engage and find ways of becoming more active within the game. I am eager to continue the legacy, following the success of Team GB in the 2012 Olympics, of women and girls participating within the game at all levels. I want to be able to utilise my background and experience in fostering links with schools, clubs and the community, in empowering young girls and women to have equality in opportunity to take part in the beautiful game that we all know as football.”

EQUALITY IN OPPORTUNITY: SPORT FOR ALL

The launch evening housed a variety of diverse women and men working in women’s sport and business at all levels, but all who have ONE GOAL ONE VISION – and that is to support and raise the profile of women in sport.  I met and spoke with Kike Oniwinde (Athlete – Javelin) who had this to say about the evening: “I thought the launch was really good. Hearing the different stories about how and why they got involved in sports and the challenges they faced was interesting. The interactive session gave us a chance to share ideas and hear different people’s take on how to help women in sport. It was also very nice for Accenture to host the event, the venue was lovely”.

Kike feels the funding support provided by WST will definitely aid in her progression as an athlete: “Knowing that there is somewhere to go when I need some more funding or support is great. It’s even better that they don’t discriminate against how good someone is or isn’t but rather they aim to help at all levels. Meeting other women in sports through them will also be beneficial because I can see that there are others in a similar position to me and we all aim to achieve big things. The inspiring stories can only keep me motivated”.

HELP AT ALL LEVELS: INCLUSION NOT EXCLUSION

I want to draw upon what Kike said regarding the WST ‘helping at all levels’ as there is one individual (who actually was the photographer at the launch reception!) who provides an interesting story on how the WST will help her – Alison Palmer (Photographer, Producer and Footballer).

“For me, it is an interesting opportunity as I am a woman in sport in two ways; I play football and futsal, being part of the Pro5 squad who have successfully reached the FA Fives Finals to be played at Wembley, and am a grassroots football coach.  Then there is the other side of me as a woman in sport which is my work as a photographer.  I am a professional photographer specialising in portraiture but for the last 3 and a half years I have been focusing on shooting and promoting women’s and girl’s sports, as I got so frustrated by the fact that these great athletes were being ignored by the media and did not have anywhere near the level of promotion they needed!

Alison’s story and background is interesting as she demonstrates how she can help the trust in promoting and raising awareness of women in sport through the media.  Additionally, her passion and drive for football both playing and coaching will be aided through the financial support the WST can provide.

RECIPROCAL SUPPORT NETWORK: LET’S HELP EACH OTHER!

So, what can you do to get involved?  Have a think about the following…………….

  • Watch, talk and generally promote women’s sport
  • Keep updated regarding WST
  • Talk to family and friends about the trust
  • Become an individual donor
  • Can your organisation become a sponsor?
  • Would you like to have a formal role within the WST?

Remember – all those involved in the trust are VOLUNTEERS, and VOLUNTEERS are the LIFE-BLOOD of our WOMEN IN SPORT COMMUNITY.

I would like to thank Tammy and Jo for not only inviting me to the launch reception, where I got to meet lots of lovely people and eat lots of lovely food, but giving me the opportunity to be part of this exciting MOVEMENT.

To get involved or find out more about the Women’s Sport Trust please visit: http://www.womenssporttrust.com/.  Also follow the WST on twitter: @WomenSportTrust

To view other sport stories that I have written please visit: manishatailor.blogspot.co.uk and follow me on twitter @ManishaTailor1.  If you have a story that you would like me to cover please feel free to contact me via email: misstailor@hotmail.co.uk

Finally I’ll leave you with this……

Every dream begins with a dreamer.  Let the Women’s Sport Trust help you reach for the stars and turn your dream to reality.  Be part of this new REVOLUTION supporting ALL WOMEN in SPORT.

Manisha Tailor

Manisha Tailor

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