Farrer & Co Women in Sport - Report - Page 33
For Lewes FC, gender equality and parity
between the men’s and women’s teams was
a question of survival of the club. They also
have huge female participation as they had
to pull on all support and ensure that this
was a concerted effort from the whole
community. It requires a big investment
in terms of time and personnel.
There are many reasons “why”. The first,
of course, is that greater equality is an
end in itself.
Women and girls have the ambition
to participate in sport and to achieve
the best they can, including at the elite
level. They should be given the
opportunity to realise those ambitions.
Such achievements require
infrastructure – access to facilities and
coaches, the money to take part, to tour
venues away from home, and to train
with the best. As is noted in this paper,
a situation where a club’s first women’s
team is treated as its eighth team is
This is not just about elite athletes,
though it is clear that when elite
achievements happen in any sport,
the possibility of a boost for grassroots
participation is opened up. A core aim
of widening participation in sport is for
people to be fitter and happier – and for
women, that participation gap, though
narrowing, is still significant.
Such a boost is not automatic,
though. Schools need to offer
opportunities, there have to be clubs
to join. They need facilities, training
and coaching that is set up to accept
and develop women and girls.
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Attention also has to be paid to
public sporting events – not least the
marketing and location, as well as the
spectator experience. For many sports,
these can be in contrast to the men’s
game. A better family atmosphere may
prevail, and supporter aggression levels
be reduced as a result (though not
levels of passion).
There has been a big focus on
football. As we try to identify ways
to make progress for women’s sport,
that is perhaps inevitable. Football
is a bellwether sport. It has the most
supporters, and the commercial
and income opportunities are more
advanced. It is also one of a handful
of sports where the women’s teams
have captured the public imagination.
But Sport England in particular
can point to progress across the board,
notably in sports governance. By linking
the requirements of its Code – a board
that is at least 30% male and 30%
female – to funding, it has ensured that
almost all national governing bodies
have come into line with this aspiration.
The Olympics also emerges as a
force for good here. As our own data
research shows, governing bodies and
clubs in Olympic-recognised sports
Chairman, Lewes Football Club
Farrer & Co roundtable
The critical success
factor will be creating a
Head of FA Education,
The Football Association
Farrer & Co roundtable
out-perform others on this measure.
We know that diverse boards boost
organisational performance, because
a diverse board is better at spotting
risks and capitalising on opportunities.
Among the opportunities that should
not be missed is the enormous potential
for women’s sport across the board –
the achievements we have seen to
date should only be the beginning.