Posted on Wed 13 Aug 2014 at 15:14 by Simon Cain
Today sees a new dawn in women’s sport across the globe. For the first time ever, a women’s cricket team will step out on to a hallow turf as a fully paid professional team. (You can currently listen to this via the BBC website or on BBC 5 live!). What makes this an even more incredible landmark? The fact that cricket is one of the most traditionalist sports on the planet where change is normally at a snail’s pace.
As a male, some will think it is not my place to comment on such matters but, I have been heavily involved in women’s sport and trying to develop that. I spent the winter working as the mental skills coach for the Scotland Ladies National cricket team and I lead a sports union that has a focus on developing women’s sport to allow the 60% of our student population, who define themselves as women, to get involved in sport and physical activity. For the first time in 2013/14, we published some facts and figures around sport at UWS with the most prominent of those facts being that we have a sports union that is a 37.5% to 62.5% split in favour of men, something which I want to bring to between 45% and 55% over the course of the next academic year. These statistics are reflected in our overall BUCS points for 2013/14 with 30 of the 97 points achieved last year coming directly from women athletics but the stories underlying these stats are what make me so determined to bring more women in to sport at UWS.
2013/14 was the most successful year for sport at UWS with more BUCS points, league titles and individual titles than ever before. Male teams dominated our league title (Men’s hockey and football) but, all of our British success came at the hands of our female individual athletes; Rachel Hunter, BUCS Gold, Toni McIntosh, BUCS Silver, Amy Duggan, BUCS Bronze and Morgan McGuire, BUCS Plate Winner. This tells the true story to me about where success and the potential for future success lies at UWS …. Women’s Sport.
UWS has seen various attempts to attract more women in to sport but each has failed or faltered at different places on the journey. This year we are trying a different, radical approach to getting more women involved in sport (this will blow your mind) …. We’re going to get women to promote women’s sport! (I told you it would blow your mind!)
We want to encourage women to come forward and get more women involved in sport for the coming year. We’ve already started by having a woman (Kelsey Campbell) come forward to run women’s rugby for the year ahead and we have approach the SRU to work with their women’s rugby development officer to further promote the sport and to get more women involved. We’re also looking to get women involved in basketball and football as well as our full range of sports, which can be viewed at www.sauws.org.uk/getinvolved/teamuws!
I believe that women in sport should be equal and that we should be celebrating the success of our female athletes as much as their male counterparts, particularly at a university like UWS where 60% of the population is female. We want to not only get women who have an interest in sport involved in our sports program but to break down the barriers that stop women getting involved in physical activity and health and wellbeing without any stigmas or stereotypes being attached to them.
One way of doing this is by the introduction of our Positive Coaching Ambassadors. The PCA Project is based upon the successful Positive Coaching Scotland initiative, ran by Sport Scotland, and will aim to create an environment where everyone can enjoy sport and physical activity without any prejudice. The Ambassadors will be volunteers from within the current Sports Union set up who will work with the Sports President, the Sports and Societies Executive, the General Council of Sports and Societies and the coaches of each individual club to challenge each other to create the most positive, inspirational and empowering environment possible to help our students to achieve their aims on and off the field of play.
I believe every student, no matter how they define themselves, should be given the same opportunity to indulge in their passions and to achieve their dreams … this is my ultimate aim and one which means we can change the landscape of sport at UWS forever!