Friday, June 12, 2015

How do you support women in sport?

Get out and support women's sport was the message from a conference in Dublin yesterday. Running on  social media #supporthersport the campaign wants to put bums on seats.

It made me think about the women who supported me when I was fighting - and who inspired me to keep going and now support other women.
  •  Lisa Houghton Smith from Bad Company gym in England used to train sometimes at Jittis; my head still remembers an instructive boxing-only sparring session. And we cornered together for a Thai woman Boon-Term Kitmuti who had her first fight totally against her husband's wishes in Rangsit stadium - you can see clips in this National Geographic doco.
  • Melissa from the Jungle Gym down on Koh Phangan was another inspiration. That gym now seems to be closed, but she had been the first female fighter to train at Jittis - really opened the path for me. 
  • Cat Bennet from England lived and trained for years in Bangkok. We bonded over our bruises and injuries and are still mates today. That links takes you to one of the few videos around from that time, shot at Loy Kratong festival fights.
We all worked together, even though for the most part the only women I met were my opponents! But the few women I met were such an inspiration. That's why we need to get more attention shining on athletes because they can be great role models.

When I went windsurfing a few weeks ago there was a German family doing it too, the woman/ mother was  maybe in her late 50s. By the 2nd day she was carrying a shiny black eye having walloped herself with the mast somehow but it didn't put her off. Her 20-something daughter was just so proud. 

This is one campaign I can really get behind. It's all very well complaining about the lack of coverage for women's sport or lack of sponsorship but the one thing sure to change that is making our support visible. Sponsors go where the money is, and some day sports editors will also go there in larger numbers.

The launch got great coverage to be fair, helped by stars like Sonia O' Sullivan and Claire Balding. The English presenter was quoted yesterday as saying: "As Billie Jean King put it, ‘if you want to be it, you have to see it.'. Watching women push themselves beyond what most of us would consider painful barriers is enlightening and inspiring.”

And isn't that the very crux of it? Why is it always men who are our heros? The campaign is also calling on us to bring our sisters, mothers, nieces and friends to our favourite sports - great idea.

    Join the campaign online using the hashtag  #supporthersport

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