With heroic successes and higher viewing figures, 2022 might just be the turning point for equality in sport, says expert Mel Mitchell
With the success of the UEFA Women’s European Championships, it seems that women’s sport is finally heading in the right direction. A record-breaking Wembley stadium crowd of 87,192 witnessed England win their very first major women’s tournament.
I don’t normally like watching football, but even I was gripped!
Women’s sport hasn’t always been so well received though. Sport has been a male domain, mostly because vigorous activity was seen as inappropriate; women were sidelined and banned from participating.
The 50 year ban
Women’s football actually became popular during the First World War but, due to its increasing popularity, in 1921, the Football Association (FA) banned women from playing on FA-affiliated pitches.
You can read the fascinating story here – it wasn’t until 1971, 50 years later, that the ban was overturned.
This year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham was also a massive success in terms of women’s sport, with more medals being awarded to women than men. The Games also saw the debut of the women’s T20 cricket.
I for one enjoyed sitting down with a cup of tea to watch everything the Games had to offer. Regular readers will know I love lifting weights, so the Olympic weightlifting was a personal highlight.
It is fair to say that equality in sport still has a way to go, but it is great to see how quickly it is progressing, with so many women’s sports like football, rugby and cricket getting ever more coverage and recognition. This will hopefully inspire more women to try a sport, nurturing the next generation into believing they can achieve whatever they wish to.
It is also a pleasure to see women participating not necessarily in the sport itself, but getting involved in other ways such as refereeing and coaching. I enjoy being part of a thriving senior ladies rugby team – a team that didn’t even exist five years ago. This season we are entering our very first league. We aren’t at elite level yet, but watch this space. In fact, most towns and villages now have at least one sports club open to women.
So come on ladies, get yourselves involved!