It’s women’s sport week this week in the U.K. A celebration of female achievements in the sporting world, both big and small, along with a time to encourage others to give sport a go.
I’d never really classed myself as sporty growing up. Sure I was active, skiing and riding horses, but to me that was never sporty. That was reserved for the perfectly preened popular kids who excelled at the school mandated netball, hockey, tennis. Sports where unless you had an ounce of athleticism or decent hand eye coordination you may as well have sat on the sidelines. So that’s what I did for years, sat on the sidelines. In the words of my teacher, it wouldn’t be fair for me to ruin it for the other children.
Unfortunately you hear of this happening all the time. Comments made to young girls which end up leaving longer term impressions.
Fast forward a decade and sporty is where I feel most at home. I’ve re-discovered my sporty self in the mountains. To me sporty now means not being afraid to try something new. It means getting sweaty, muddy, cold, wet and very sunburnt. It means coming home at the end of the day smiling even though I’m so tired. It means mental resilience in the face of enormous challenges and appreciating the incredible achievements of the human body under stress.
Across the board our perception of sporty women has changed too. We’re no longer fixated on the belief that sports aren’t for girls, that you’re a ‘tomboy’ for playing sport of any kind. Campaigns like This Girl Can and REI’s Force of Nature are putting incredible normal women in big adverts. Magazines are dedicating whole issues to women at the top of their game, pushing sporting boundaries. And podcasts such as Tough Girl Challenges and She Explores are redefining our perceptions of what every women can achieve through sport.
With this greater visibility of women in sport I can only hope that the next generation of climbers, runners, swimmers and gold medal winners is even more phenomenal than the last. I can’t wait to hear their stories.