Can’t tell your WSUK from your WiSP?
There’s a whole lot of people and organisations out there trying to promote women’s sport. However, I am well aware that the acronyms can be confusing. So, here’s my guide just some of the best (in my opinion).
The list will reflect my interests and I know there are a lot more out there that I don’t subscribe to, so feel free to add your own favourites in a comment.
There are, in fact, so many that I’m going try to group them in a way that makes it easier to get to grips with. Firstly I’m going to tackle the most important group – the organisations and campaigns trying to get women and girls active and helping women develop their careers in sport.
For everything generally about the business of getting women active and promoting women’s sport, the first port of call has to be Women in Sport (WiS) (formerly Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation WSFF). It is a charity that is “Transforming sport for every woman and girl in the UK”. It promotes community and grassroots opportunities for women and girls to take part in whatever sport they want to. It’s helping to break down barriers to participation and is at the forefront of helping women pursue a career in sport, be it playing, coaching, administrating, officiating, being in sports media or on a sports board.
If you are involved in any aspect of sport and you want to connect with like-minded people, you can join the Women’s Sport Network. This is run by WiS and is great for networking, events and support. They also run a peer-mentoring scheme in association with Women Ahead. Membership is limited and opportunities to become a member only happen at certain times of the year. As it happens, membership is now open until the end of September 2015 so have a look what’s on offer.
WiS was instrumental in the initiating the first Women’s Sport Week this year and is constantly publishing guidelines and research into women’s opportunities for sport. Their latest, published in September 2015, is aimed at Helping Sport to become What Women Want.
If you’ve heard of any campaign surrounding women’s sport, chances are it will be This Girl Can. Developed by Sport England and partners, it is a celebration of women taking part in sport and being active at every level. It has been promoted in bus shelter posters and even TV adverts. It has become incredibly popular as it shows real women doing their thing with tag lines such as “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox!” It is also gaining wider recognition as I think every time I’ve listened to former Australian cricketer, Mel Jones, on TMS or Sky, she seems to have mentioned it! If ever you need inspiration to take up a sport or just to get moving, check it out
The Women’s Sport Trust is a charity which “raises the visibility and increases the impact of women’s sport.” They look to promote role models, look to influence women’s sports coverage in the media through making partnerships and also are looking to change the way women’s sport is funded. They have some sports grants available.
The Trust has also has just launched its own news website, The Mixed Zone. It is a combination of articles by athletes and journalists discussing the top issues in women’s sport.
If coaching is your career of choice, there is one organisation/site you shouldn’t miss. The Female Coaching Network is , in its own words, “The world’s only international multi-sport online community for female sports coaches.” It includes news, blogs, interviews and a members’ forum. You can check out other women’s experiences of how they got into coaching and their tips to follow and pitfalls to avoid. It is an invaluable resource for anyone thinking of taking up coaching, be it in a paid capacity or as a volunteer.
In addition to this the County Sports Partnerships (CSPs) have advice in abundance for the budding coach. One particularly good site is the Women’s Coaching Network, which is part of the West of England Sports Trust. Although their information is based around Bristol, Bath, Somerset and some of Gloucestershire, there is a lot of stuff on there which will be useful to anyone.
The other biggie is the Women’s Sports Network (WSNet), not to be confused with the membership group of WiS – told you it was confusing
This incredible organisation, entirely volunteer-run is a “not for profit community promoting issues/opportunities around WomenSport and SportsWomen.”
It has four main strands:
- @ACTIVEMapX – locations for women to find a class or activity near them
- SPORTSReports – @Twing_IT – dedicated women’s sports reporting channel
- HerJOBSnet – jobs for women looking to get into sport-related posts
- Lobbying and empowerment generally through digital media.
You really should check it out – it’s amazing! The breadth of coverage, the knowledge and its campaigning are beyond compare. I could have put it in my media organisations list too – in fact I still may, as it bears repeating.
Finally, I’m going to mention one sport-specific organisation and that is Women in Football (WIF). I know there must be others for other sports, but this one is the biggest and best known. It is a network of professional women who work in football and aim to promote football (playing, officiating, administrating etc) to girls and women. A lot of their role is to lobby government, media and other sports organisations for better opportunities for women and girls who want to get into football. The website also includes a form to fill in to report sexist incidents in football.
I think that’s probably enough to be going on with! In my next blog post I’ll get to grips with the people promoting women’s sport in the media (including me). There are more out there than you think.