Women’s Sports Column – The Next Phase

thank youI promised, before I went on holiday, that there would be news about the future of the column on my return.

So here it is:

Essentially, I will no longer be able to write a weekly column – there are several factors that have led me to that decision, so let me explain.

Firstly, the column was always a means to hopefully several ends; that I was able to get a whole raft of women’s sports news out in one place every week, but also that it would showcase my writing skills and help me to get paid work doing the thing that I love.

The first I think I have managed reasonably well.  I have a small but loyal band of followers and I would like to thank you for your support.  The second has not been such a success.

I don’t want to descend into cliché heaven but I have reached the point of a “perfect storm”, which has now encouraged me to end the weekly column.

Firstly, and not wanting to sound self-pitying, I have realised that I’m never going to be the great sports journalist that I am in my mind.  There are so many young women out there finally being given the chance to do the job that there is no way I can compete.  And I wish them all the luck in the world – they will have to fight hard to get anywhere in this sector, but I see more and more talented women coming through and it is wonderful.  They are talented, they are determined and I will be delighted to see them succeed.

At the same time, I have been offered a promotion in the “day job” and I have decided to take it.  It means taking on more hours, which is the telling issue for the column.  The blog takes me usually nearly two full days to research, write and post and I just won’t have that time any more.  Even though I cannot pretend it is the job of my dreams, it is a great job and I am fortunate to work in such a great place with such a fabulous (and uniquely quirky) team.  Check out: www.johnstorercharnwood.org.uk for details.

And thirdly, I feel that due to the (relative) explosion in the media coverage of women’s sport, my column is somewhat redundant.  Don’t get me wrong, all is not rosy out there and we have a massive way to go.  But even during the four years I have been writing the blog, things have improved beyond recognition.  This is the aspect I’m most pleased about, if this doesn’t sound bizarre.

I have been privileged to attend and write about some fabulous sport over the past four years and I have loved it so much.  No doubting my favourite – the Cricket World Cup final in 2017.  But I have also loved writing about the politics – pieces on International Women’s Day, pieces about trans women in sport, etc – these are the issues that make my heart race and I would still say, if there are any commissioning editors out there who would like me to write a feature on any aspect of women’s sport, I would do it like a shot!

Once I settle down into my new role, I will know what time (and energy) I have to commit to writing.  So this is au revoir, not goodbye.  I am fully determined to write occasional pieces, especially if things happen that need me to rant at length!

Make no mistake, women’s sport is still seen as second or even third class around the world.  This needs to change, but recently I have begun to think this just may happen.  It may not be during my lifetime, but I fully expect the next generation to complete the job.

But even as the media coverage improves, we must continue to hold the media and governing bodies to account.  We must speak out when we see discrimination and we must fight with every breath until female athletes, officials and administrators are given proper recognition and equal opportunity.  And you can be rest assured that I will still be doing this at every point I can.

So for now, this is it.  Please keep following me for my Twitter feed and my occasional pieces and feel free to contact me via the website if you have any questions, queries, comments (or jobs!).

It has been a pleasure.



Women’s Sports Column

cricket25-11 March

Welcome to this week’s column. This week’s stories come from tennis, football, netball, cycling and cricket.

A good week again for British women’s tennis. After reporting on Heather Watson’s progress in the Monterrey Open last week, she only went on to win it! She beat Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the final 3-6 6-2 6-3. It is Watson’s third WTA title win.

And the tournaments keep on coming. Watson is in action again this week, this time in Indian Wells. She is through to the second round after beating Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 7-6 4-6 6-1. She takes on 32nd seed Monica Niculescu in round two.

One of the most heartening sights of the week was the return of Laura Robson to the WTA tour. She was beaten in the first round at Indian Wells 7-6 6-2 by Magdalena Rybarikova, but the result didn’t really matter. It was the first time Robson had been in a tournament since the US Open in August 2015.

“I’m 100% better. The last time I felt pain was in January,” said Robson in an interview with the BBC.

Of course, we can’t ignore the other big tennis story of the week. Maria Sharapova announced this week that she had failed a drugs test during the Australian Open in January. She tested positive for the banned substance, meldonium. She had been taking the substance since 2006, apparently for health reasons. Meldonium has only been on the banned substances register since the beginning of this year.

The ITF (International Tennis Federation) has provisionally suspended Sharapova. She could face a 2-year ban.

Not wanting to be controversial, but I just wonder what the reaction would have been had it been Serena Williams who had failed the test….


After reporting Laura Trott’s first gold medal at the World Track Cycling Championships, needless to say she won again before the event was out, this time in the omnium. She was 12 points ahead when it came to the final 100-lap points race. And she never looked in trouble. She dominated from the start and the gold medal was confirmed with 20 laps to go.

France’s Laurie Berthon finished second with American Sarah Hammer in third.


England finished third in the SheBelieves Cup on goals scored after losing against Germany and drawing with France this week.

England were incredibly unlucky against Germany. They led through Toni Duggan header up until the 76th minute when they conceded an own-goal and a penalty to lose the game. Gilly Flaherty put the ball into her own net, which was unlucky enough, but the penalty award was a real shocker. Fara Williams, winning her 150th cap was adjudged to have foul tackled Alexandra Popp, when it was obvious to all except the officials that she took the ball cleanly.

England Head Coach, Mark Sampson, was unhappy about the standard of officiating. This has been a recurrent theme in women’s football recently and will have to be tackled by football’s governing bodies.

Good football was at a premium during the France match, not because the teams weren’t capable, but because the pitch was so dire. France really should have taken the lead in the first half as they had several chances, and England were relieved to go in level at half-time.

To counteract the pitch, both sides resorted to the long ball in the second half, but the deadlock was not to be broken and the game finished 0-0.

The winners of the tournament were USA after they beat Germany 2-1. Germany took the lead through Anja Mittag, but the hosts came back with two goals in six minutes from Alex Morgan and Samantha Mewis.

Wales finished the Cyprus Cup without a win. Their last hope was against Hungary on Wednesday, but they lost 2-1 to a goal in the last minute. This was the 5th/6th place play-off. Four games, two draws, two defeats. The tournament winners were Austria. They beat Poland in the final 2-1.

Really sad news from Doncaster Belles this week. Their midfielder Ashleigh Mills has had to retire at the age of 20 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

She posted on Twitter:

“I have tried so hard to get back but my legs just won’t go. Unfortunately this disease cannot be beaten and has taken my dream.”


The latest round of Netball Superleague results were as follows:

Friday 4th March
Celtic Dragons 53 45 Team Northumbria
Team Bath 60 44 Loughborough Lightning

Saturday 5th March

Yorkshire Jets 44 49 Manchester Thunder
Surrey Storm 50 55 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Monday 7th March

Hertfordshire Mavericks 67 45 Celtic Dragons


The World T20 Cup starts on Tuesday in India. I’ll be covering it for WSUK, so expect plenty of match reports, news and comment. I’ll keep posting the links on my blog so you can follow it all. England begin on Thursday against Bangladesh. The media coverage is, surprisingly, a bit hit and miss. Some of it is on Sky, some on TMS. So if you can’t follow it live, I suggest you check in on my blog or on WSUK to keep up with what’s going on.

I have previewed the tournament and the chances of the two groups for WSUK: group A and group B.

And finally, Women in Sport has announced its first patron – England women’s football Head Coach, Mark Sampson. Yes, it’s a man. But he is, in my opinion, a really good choice. He is unstinting in his promotion of women’s sport and has the ear of people who may actually be able to make a difference.

In accepting the position he said,

“Greater equality in sport is a cause men need to get behind as much as women do and I look forward to working more closely with the charity to further its mission.”

Women’s Sports organisations and media – read them, watch them, follow them, use them.

Part 1

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.