Former England netball player Tamsin Greenway is a passionate supporter of the joint Sky Sports-Women’s Sports Trust #ShowUp campaign, but is keen to emphasise that it is not just about major championships in major stadiums, but also sport taking place at the local recreational ground.
The #ShowUp initiative aims to get people not only watching sport at elite or grassroots level, but participating or even volunteering at their local club.
The Sky Sports netball pundit says: “We love the big events, but actually there’s regular stuff going on all across the country in all different sports that people can get involved in.”
And Greenway believes that the job of instilling an interest and understanding of the importance of sport lies predominantly with parents. The responsibility for change can’t just come from the media and athletic role models, she says.
“We want kids at a young age to get involved in sport and to love it,” Greenway says. “We know then it’s going to set them up for life in terms of a healthy lifestyle and all the other added extras that come with mental wellbeing. It’s an amazing opportunity.
“Having dads take their daughters down [to a game], and boys seeing women’s sport in a whole different light, starts to change perspective.”
From her own experience, Greenway knows how her regular involvement in sport impacts on five-year-old daughter Jamie. “Sport’s always been a massive part of my life and I think for Jamie it’s the complete norm. She dresses up in her princess dresses but still comes down to training and gets all hot and sweaty with the girls.
“But looking around, and even looking at her school friends, it’s not [the norm]. It’s completely the opposite for those guys. They don’t see it. They’re not involved. They’re not around it. It’s now about breaking down that stereotypical thought around female sports.”
Greenway goes on: “I think we’re at a massive turning point, but I think we’ve been on that edge for such a long time. We had the 2012 Olympics where we had some amazing female role models. [At the time] we talked about this legacy and pushing it forward, and we’ve had some amazing events over the past few years for female sport.
“I think this campaign for me is a different angle. It actually puts some responsibility back on us [the athletes]. It is about time – we can change it and we can make a difference.”
Greenway is adamant the media is backing women’s sport already, and is now turning to athletes to do their part, to be positive role models and encourage participation. She said the conversion about women’s sport both before and during the campaign is already making a difference.
“We know it takes time, but we’ve got to start somewhere and that’s why I love the #ShowUp campaign. It gives us a massive platform to start making a difference. We [athletes] have been on a real journey – I can say that from the netball point of view. My first final was in front of 50 people and that changed to playing a final in front of 6,000. The journey is there.”
With viewing figures at an all-time high, and broadcasters showing not just the big, international finals but also domestic games, women’s sport is now more accessible than ever. Greenway insisted showing up doesn’t have to involve taking a trip to watch a live game. She says: “Just by putting on the tele, if you can’t get to a game, and watching it and talking about sport in a different way to your kids, and showing them female sport is out there (will be helpful).
“Sky are giving away 5,000 tickets across the summer, which is amazing. So it gives families the opportunity to go and watch something. But it’s also about participation. We want kids at a young age to get involved in sport and to love it.
“I think for me the minute you go and see something, you enjoy it, you get a buzz, and it’s going to then give a continuation for you to pledge an allegiance to a club. There’s an avenue in sport for everybody and it’s trying to get everyone involved really early on.”
Greenway says even if people are not looking to play or watch; there are opportunities, whether it be in an officiating role, in broadcasting or possibly coaching, to name few options.
She still thinks, though, there’s a way to go before women’s sport – despite positive progress – is on the right track. “When I first started there was a sort of taboo. ‘Female sport is not as good as the men’s game’. That view has changed hugely over the past few years and we’re seeing women’s sport being portrayed in a much more positive light. People are talking about it as a serious career move, or a serious game to watch, and I love that.
“#ShowUp is about people engaging in female sport in a different way. Not just saying, ‘Oh, some netball players played and they won a gold medal’. We’re actually hearing about the players and their stories. We’re getting the lifestyle pieces, which is amazing because you want these super stars. You want to see these female athletes and that’s the only way it’s going to change. It’s all about having a positive impact.”
Sky Sports and the Women’s Sport Trust have joined forces to encourage everyone to show up and support women in sport by watching, attending or playing this summer. Be a part of the campaign by sharing your experiences of women’s sport on social media using #ShowUp
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Victoria is a freelance sports broadcaster with a passion for women’s sports. She recently moved back from Dubai after a stint working for topical radio station Dubai Eye. Most recently she has worked with Haymarket Media. Emily is currently doing an MA in Sports Journalism, and in her spare time is producing a documentary about sport in prison – shooting the whole film using her phone. You can find Emily cheering on AFC Bournemouth, taking games on the netball court far too seriously or knocking around a football with her young son, Jude. Emily’s latest articles.