In this regular column on Women in Sport, Rob Hartnett dives a little deeper into issues surrounding Women in Sport. We shouldn’t need a column like this but until such time as reality matches rhetoric, let’s throw a few pebbles and see what ripples emerge…
The main thing needed in order to achieve parity of esteem for Women playing sport is to normalise it. We need to see small changes that lead to bigger changes and then to look back and see how far we have come.
This week has seen a number of those changes in the sport of football. As it is the world’s number one sport it is a vital touchstone on where progress is being made.
Last Saturday 35,271 people paid to go to Wembley to see Man City beat Chelsea 4-1 to win the Women’s FA Cup. Take a look at their kits in the picture above and you will see that not only Etihad, rolling over their overall clubs sponsorship to the women’s game but also Nissan and Vitality wanting to be part of the surge of interest in the game.
Ireland’s Megan Campbell played a key role in the win as an extra bonus.
Last night Steph Houghton, another key player on that winning team, sat alongside Niall Quinn as the analyst on Sky Sports’ Premier League Live show covering Man City against West Brom.
Last week it was announced that Barcelona were in talks about entering their Women’s team in the North American Women’s Soccer league, using this as an opportunity to push their brand at a global level.
Also in Spain we read about AEM Lleida, the U13 girls team who had just won their Junior regional league, competing as the only girls team in an otherwise all boys league.
Closer to home Fota Island resort were unveiled as sponsors of the Gaynor Cup, a prestige tournament for developing players aged from U14 to U16 and which has in the past produced players of the calibre of Stephanie Roche and Katie McCabe.
Not any one of these events would make you think the battle had been won or a major threshold crossed but together they are part of a growing sense that sport for women is part of the mainstream, that women involved in sport have a voice and an opinion worth listening to, and that women in football are accelerating towards that position of their presence being ‘normal’
Join us on November 30th for the 3rd Annual Sport for Business Women in Sport Conference taking place in the Fitzgerald Chamber at UCD. Find out More.