BLOG: Getting the nation talking about Women in Sport
By Ella Jerman, Her Sport editor
In the last decade we’ve seen a huge drive from clubs and national governing bodies to raise the profile of women’s sport and we don’t want those efforts to be wasted. And that’s exactly why we’re here.
We talk about the saying ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’, but regardless of whether women and girls want to become professional athletes or not, why should we be shut off from the conversation? We make up 50 per cent of the population, and we’re allowed a sporting voice, too.
By launching the first dedicated women’s sport feed in the UK, we want to get the nation talking about women in sport. Whether you’re into football, rugby, netball or cricket, Her Sport will be there to feed it all.
I wish eight-year-old me could have seen the sea change that was coming in women’s sport coverage. That was my first reaction to seeing the Lionesses walk out at Wembley for the first time.
As I went out to take my seat for England’s historic home fixture against Germany back in November, I was greeted by a sight I never thought I would see – three tiers of Wembley packed out to watch our women’s national team.
Two weeks later and the goosebumps were back, this time at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium as I stood amongst 3,000 Arsenal fans in the sold-out away end of the first-ever North London derby in the Women’s Super League.
If only my younger self could have known this was going to happen in her twenties. The only time she saw women represented in a football stadium was when the Hammerettes waved their pom poms on the pitch at Upton Park. She didn’t know West Ham, or England, even had a women’s team.
And that’s exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing. Women’s football has taken great strides since the early 2000s, when a professional route didn’t exist and players had to scrape to make a living, but the only way to take it further is to give it our support.
Little did eight-year-old me know that West Ham did, in fact, have a women’s team. They were formed before I was born in 1991 – but with no mention of them in the programme, or on the club website, how was I meant to find out?
For a long time, women’s sport coverage was near impossible to find. We may have seen Serena Williams winning countless Grand Slams and Kelly Holmes storming to double Olympic gold in Athens but when it came to traditionally male-dominated sports like football, there was nothing to be seen.
Recently, I had the most refreshing conversation with an old school friend who told me that even though she’d never been a football fan before, catching a glimpse of Arsenal women on the FA player made her want to find out more.
Why? Because Jordan Nobbs and Beth Mead are more relatable role models to her than the men’s team. Now, she’s booked her tickets to see the Continental Cup final.
The power of the media in raising the public profile of women’s sport cannot be underestimated, and I’m thrilled to be part of the Her Sport team reporting on some of the most exciting women’s sport over the coming months, starting with the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia.