‘If she can’t see it, she can’t be it’
On Saturday I took my 5 year old daughter to the Copper Box for the British Fast5 Netball Allstars. I was excited for her to go to a big arena and so with my sister and Mum we headed down to London on the train.
I felt this was a big deal – I was excited about how far the game had come with a huge showcase at The Copper Box, excited she could see some amazing players, be inspired by fantastic athletes and see some close competition. Annie was also very excited – Thunder Bear in hand –she was off to watch her favourite sport and support her team – but for her it was no biggie! She was going to the game – just like her brother does.
She wasn’t thinking about how great it was to see female athletes at a great venue, or that Sky Sports were showing the event, or how many seats were filled or that it was such a professional, well-organised event – (excellent job by Matchroom) – she was just going to watch Thunder – going to watch her team play.
That’s when I realised we were going in the right direction – making going to the game, normal.
Annie loved the whole day – when Josie Huckle sat next to us and chatted to her about the game – she was awe-struck, when Caroline O Hanlon had a photo with her – she couldn’t stop smiling, when she met Karen Greig and Sharni Leyton – she beamed that these players and coaches had spoken to her – she wanted to be a netballer. Through watching the awesome talent on display she was inspired by these great athletes and through how approachable they were she believed it was actually possible to be them one day.
Twitter erupted throughout the day – I mean did anyone mention Sharni Leyton was playing… Everyone was talking about the awesome talent on court in Sharni Leyton, Cat Tuivaiti, Ash Brazill, Anna Thompson, Stacey Francis, Shelby-Ricketts and the ridiculous shooting from Rachel Dunn and Karyn Bailey. Everyone was talking about what a brillant atmosphere there was and what a great event it was. We all showed up and it was great! We all came away thinking – we need to do this again!
On Monday, the #20×20 campaign from the Federation of Irish Sport was launched – it shows strong girls who love sport. They love playing and they love watching – but their role models are all men. Through the strong tagline – ‘If she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ – it makes us realise that as well as the media – we need to make sure our girls need to SEE elite women in their sports – so they can aspire to be them and believe it is possible.
Through the successful campaigning from pioneering sportswomen and organisations, there are now more opportunities to take our sons and daughters to the women’s game, to expose them to the joy and anguish of sport, the wins and the losses, the role models and the inspirations. Through the ShowUp campaign we know we need to turn up to the game and turn on the TV to show that we want to see these events – numbers are the key!
As we arrived back in Chester, Thunder ball under one arm and Thunder Bear in the other – I asked my daughter if she had fun – she looked up at me and said ‘Yes! Can we go and watch girl’s football next?’
My heart burst – I just need to make sure it’s a United game….