“Girls can’t play…”
A comment many young female athletes have heard throughout their time playing. Females playing stereotypical ‘male’ sports is not a new phenomenon but if you look at Twitter after a female has been a pundit for the premier league or a player comes to the WSL for a big fee, it’s like the world has been pushed back 50 years. Jodie Cunningham, Beth Mead, Emma Hayes arguably some of the best athletes in their given sport and have all spoken out about the bias and stereotypes they have experienced throughout their careers.
We spoke with our Health Coach, Megan, who said:
“Playing football since the age of 9, you get used to the comments made by the boys telling you can’t play or how rubbish a touch was. Fortunately for me, that was the limit to my experiences of sexism thanks to coaches who were very aware of correct terms, and would always ask if they ever weren’t sure. However, this is not the same for everyone; speaking to friends and teammates over the years they have experienced some awful comments and actions which on some occasions has led them to fall out of love with the sport and stop playing.
“Although actions by some try to cause a step back for female sport, it has grown phenomenally in terms of publicity, pay and experiences. Some of the Rugby League World Cup and the first ever Physical Disability Rugby League Festival of World Cup was held in Warrington this autumn, and many girls/women – including myself – had the opportunity to be part of the volunteering team (the Power Squad) both on and off the field.
These opportunities, whilst being heavily publicised, gave all of us the chance to be a part of the biggest competition in Rugby League which I am sure is something none of us will forget for a very long time.
Due to the experiences, I have had and the volunteering I have undertaken I developed skills and an understanding of young people from all walks of life. This in turn has led to my position within the Warrington wolves foundation speaking to, listening and educating them on a variety of topics as well as still volunteering with the inclusion team and being fortunate enough to coach their U16’s team.”
Our EmpowHER project, supported by Assura can help harness the passion and determination of women and girls as well as many others involved in Rugby League – whether as a volunteer, coach, official or spectator – it can unite people in a way that little else does.
Rugby League has a unique ability to develop a sense of belonging and the females who have now been EmpowHER’d are testament to the role of sport in changing their world.