Women In Sport: Taking On The World

Leeds Sport have hosted two brilliant events, bringing 5 inspirational women to the University of Leeds.

Coinciding with Leeds University Unions International Women’s Week the Leeds Sport team welcomed staff, students and the local community to join their interactive panel discussion and introductory boxing class.

The women’s only introduction to boxing session was delivered by European silver medallist, Stacey Copeland. Places were in high demand and sold out in just one hour, with 50 people on the waiting list. The session was fun, energetic and provided a basic introduction to the technical sport of boxing. Stacey is very passionate about her sport and the journey she has taken in a male dominated arena. This energy and enthusiasm contributed to making for a fantastic session enjoyed by everyone.

women in a boxing lesson smiling

Stacey then joined fellow panellists, Non Stanford- World Champion Triathlete, Alison Rose- Physiotherapist to top athletes including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Emily Freeman- 200m champion and Sarah Speers- Head Synchro Swimming Coach for Leeds, for an honest and insightful panel discussion on topics such as women’s media coverage, the school system, barriers to participation and much more!

It was clear from all of the panellists that their childhood and parents or grandparents were key influencers in getting them into sport. There was strong opinion that generally the way the media represents and discusses female sports women is more focused on how they look rather than what they have achieved e.g. do the Williams sisters look too masculine? Or what did they wear to the Sports Personality Awards?

There was a strong sense from the panel of the importance of women championing other women, be that encouraging each other to participate or buying tickets to watch women’s sports.

When the audience was asked how many of them had watched either a live women’s sports game or viewed it on TV in the last 6 months 70% had and the panel agreed that the BBC and other media should show women’s sport and treat it as the norm because the population would support it.

It was a very insightful evening and a pleasure to be joined by such inspirational women from a range of professions within sport. Both the panel and the audience could have kept talking for hours!