Along with many others I became politicised at university in the People’s Republic of Sheffield. The group I fell in with were far more politically advanced than I was and I would like to thank them all for awakening my social conscience. Growing up in Thatcher’s Britain (Yes, I’ve just dated myself there) one couldn’t help but get involved – and I did – with a passion.
Anti-Apartheid, Amnesty International, campaigning against Pinochet in Chile, Cambodia/Kampuchea, we did it all. Then there were the domestic issues; poll tax, student loans (won one, lost one). I was just off Westminster Bridge when the mounted police charged. “Education is a right, not a privilege”, etc.
And so, a lot older, but not necessarily wiser, I’m still passionate about social justice, inequality, women’s rights and the gap between rich and poor. Perhaps I don’t demonstrate as I once did, but I write, I tweet and still get angry.
So where does women’s sport come into all this? You can’t compare the campaign for the promotion of women’s sport to protesting against the iniquitous regime in South Africa. So what if you can’t see women’s sport on television, you’ve not “disappeared” under the rule of a ruthless dictator in Latin America.
But I don’t think that’s the point. The “struggle” to get women’s sport the recognition and coverage it deserves is a battle and part of a larger battle for women’s equality. I’m not fooling myself we will achieve this in my lifetime, but for as long as I can I will be doing my bit, and at the moment my focus is on the fight for the right of every girl and woman, at whatever level, from fun to grassroots to elite performance to have access to play, officiate, administrate or just watch any sport she wants to.
And there are, undoubtedly, incredibly hideous aspects to this fight – Sri Lankan and Pakistani cricketers being abused by their coaches, women having to undergo regular and demeaning gender-testing and women in the Middle East unable even to enter sports stadia; it’s not all about the lack of media coverage.
Four years ago, when I started writing about this, I felt I was in the vanguard. I wasn’t sure how many people were reading me, but it felt good to be doing it. Now it’s the buzzword, the hot topic and I feel a little bit rueful that I’m still saying the same stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I still love writing about sport – be it straightforward match reports or tournament previews or searing indictments of sexism, misogyny or inequality. But now everyone’s saying it I feel I should be doing more – back to the demonstrating perhaps? No, there’s no demonstrating to be done, but I would also like to be more practically involved.
Words are powerful weapons and they’re what I do best, but let me get my administrative head on or utilising my organising skills and watch me go. Anyone need any help? Let me know! In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, publicising and making my point in the best way I know how.