Commemorating International Women’s Day with NTU Sport

To commemorate International Women’s Day we spoke to our students from facility users to international athletes to discuss what it means to them to be a woman in sport.

With the theme for 2022 being #BreakTheBias this month we will be exploring ways in which everyone can take a role in gender equality. You can find out more about the events and activities that we have running here.

NTU Sport are offering a FREE Play for Fun Netball session, at City SU sports hall, Tuesday 8 March 5-6pm. Gather your friends and book your place via the NTU Sport app in advance. All attendees will receive a small gift!

We spoke to our athletics scholar, Sharhnee Skervin about being a female athlete. Sharhnee recently became BUCS National Champion last month, an impressive start from her first year at NTU.

What does being a woman in sport mean to you?

Being a woman in sport means a lot to me because for so many years women were told ‘no’. Doing a sport I love has helped me to develop into the person that I am today and has been hugely empowering for me. It has given me amazing opportunities whilst helping me form the best memories.

Sharhnee competing at BUCS nationals

We also spoke to Hannah Williams, Hannah balances playing for NTU Netball with acting as Englands under 21’s captain, being a super league champion in 2021 with with Loughborough Lightning and whilst being a current TASS athlete. Hannah is a multiple time Netball Europe and NPL champion.

Introduce yourself and how are you involved in sport?

I’m Hannah I’m 22 and currently studying a forensic psychology masters at NTU. I play netball for NTU’s 1s and Loughborough Lightning NDL. I have had achievements of representing England from U17-U21, captained England U21 and Netball Europe U17 and U21.

Which women in sport inspire you?

Definitely athletes like Simone Biles and Serena Williams, they way they voice their opinions and stand up for themselves in what can be a really scary and daunting environment for female athletes which is really inspiring. But also my more senior team mates, I get to train and play with some of the best netballers in the league and I’ll never take that for granted. 

What does it mean to you to be a female in sport?

Sometimes I forget the privilege I have in having a platform to encourage and support younger girls who look up to players like me and my teammates. But on the occasions where I have the opportunity to share my experience or promote female athletes, it always reminds me of my role in my sport. Just like all the netballers before me, who maybe didn’t have the same funding or support, I am aware that I need to use my platform to further the sport and promote the athleticism, strength and power of being a female athlete.

What message would you want to share with women for International Women’s Day?

Whatever it is you want to succeed at, whether that be sport, your career, your university degree, do it with confidence. Sometimes being female might automatically mean that others don’t believe in yourself or that people judge you for trying to achieve something but as long as you believe in yourself you’ve always got one person on your side! 

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of women in sport?

More exposure to the reality of female athletes, such as having to balance a dual career, tackling prejudice, working hard for funding from the government, will help show people the truth behind being a female athlete. It will highlight the dedication, the motivation and the juggling of jobs, children and/or university with the aim to illustrate the need for equality. Hopefully that will alone will make people think twice about the struggles that female athletes have to undertake to get the recognition. 

What message would you tell your younger self if you got the chance?

Just keep going! There are so many amazing things that you will achieve and succeed at, and if you stop now you’ll miss out on so many incredible memories. But also enjoy it – make sure you really take time to enjoy the little things along the way, match days, tournaments, the friends you make, the coaches you’ll get to be coached by and the players you get to play with.

We then spoke to Sophie Ward, Sophie is a regular user of the NTU Sport facilities including the gym and fitness classes including pilates.

Is there a woman that inspires you?

Yes, my boss at my current placement inspires me. Watching her progress through the field towards her current place in her career gives me direction to follow in a similar route. 

What does it mean to you to be a woman who does sport?

I thoroughly enjoy sport and believe that I am lucky to have the freedom to try new things without being fearful of what people think allowing me to use sport in a way to push myself both physically and mentally. I am grateful that the NTU Sport facilities allow me to explore different ways of staying active whilst being accepting of me. 

What message would you want to share with Women for International Women’s Day?

Fitness can be used as a way to empower one another, even if it is attending a class with a friend or going to the gym alone, you should know that the girls around you in a similar mindset and you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and connect on a common ground. 

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of Women in sport?

I would have never joined the gym if I hadn’t have seen other females showcase the opportunities that sport and fitness can bring through social media. Without the media exposing me to how I can use facilities and attend the gym whilst being inspiring, I wouldn’t have thought that it was achievable and something that I could aspire to do.

What message would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

Don’t worry that you’re not the most athletic or sporty person in the room, it’s not about copying others it’s about finding out what works for you and how you can reach your own goals. You’re 5 ft 2 you’re never going to be a marathon sprinter and that’s ok. 

We spoke to Mari Stewart, Mari has travelled from the US to study her masters at NTU, making England the fourth country that she has been able to carry her basketball career to.

What does it mean to you to be a female in sport?

I love being a female in sport, it’s a great feeling to be surrounded by a community of strong woman looking to better themselves and compete at a high level.   

What message would you want to share with women for International Women’s Day?

I would just like to say keep going! There are some truly amazing female athletes and knowing some of the challenges we face as women in sport it is something to be proud of. You are all doing a great job!  

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of women in sport?

I think the exposure of women in sport is important because it helps inspire young females to chase their dreams of continuing sport in their adult life. Without proper representation of what life is like as a female athlete, I think girls could get discouraged and stop playing because they feel they are going through things that no one else has experienced. 

What message would you tell your younger self if you got the chance?

Stop and enjoy the small things. Growing up I was always looking forward to what was ahead in my career and I wish I would’ve just stopped and took in what I or my team had done leading up to the success and achievements. 

We also spoke to Aryanna Daniels, who is a football scholar from the US. Aryanna has competed in the NCAA Division 1 for the Temple Owls and was named on both the Big South Highest GPA and Rookie teams multiple times between 2017 and 2019.

Introduce yourself and how are you involved in sport?

My name is Arryana and I am a scholar-athlete at NTU. I have been playing soccer since I was around 7 or 8 and went on to play football in college at Winthrop University and Temple University. At Winthrop, we played in the Big South Conference and as a freshman, I made the all-freshman conference team and as a sophomore, I made the first-team all-conference. Unfortunately, I tore my ACL and part of my meniscus as a sophomore and had to get surgery, however, I was able to complete my rehab and recovery in 8 months to start playing again at a new school and become part of the starting eleven for the rest of the season once I returned. In my senior year I was named captain of the team at Temple and while playing with a summer league team I was named the defensive player of the year for my conference and named to the all-conference team. Currently, I have become part of the starting eleven at Trent and play at Nottingham Forest.

Which women inspire you?

It’s pretty tough to narrow down the list of inspiring women in sport but I’d say my top 4 inspirations are Mia Hamm, Serena Williams Simone Biles, and Megan Rapinoe. 

What does it mean to you to be a female in sport?

Being a female in sport is to be a leader and act as an example for others. All sports that women compete in are just as, if not more in some cases, great and of high quality as men competing in the same sports. Women weren’t always able to play the sports they loved so to do it now can be thought of as a great thing. We are more than capable of excelling and being successful in each training session or competition that we have. By simply playing and collaborating with others, whilst being exposed to people you might not have ever met before. This offers countless opportunities to grow, lead and inspire.

What message would you want to share with Women for International Women’s Day?

I’d say whether it’s learning more about the sport itself, how to work best with others, discovering new things about myself or simply being a friend and offering support to teammates outside of your sport, embrace your sport and every opportunity it gives you. Sport is an amazing unifier and teacher but most importantly it’s fun. So it’s important to enjoy all aspects of sport. 

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of Women in sport?

As a black female athlete, I have seen how I have inspired students through volunteering and the various teams I have been a part of. To see someone who looks or sounds like you while competing at a high level and achieving many things can act as an inspiration and is encouraging to see. It allows girls to have more confidence in playing their sport because to see someone like them means that maybe they could go on to do the same and inspire another group of girls. 

What message would you tell your younger self if you got the chance?

Do not downplay your abilities instead be confident in your skill, take as many chances as you can to play and compete because before you know it there won’t be so many opportunities left, and finally just enjoy every second of the experience even the conditioning and other not so fun parts.

We spoke to Zoe Matthewman, Zoe is a netball scholar at NTU and a senior international player for Wales. Zoe gained her first caps in 2021 during the test series with the Isle of Man as preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2022. She also competes for Loughborough Lightning U21’s alongside NTU.

How you are involved in sport and what are your personal achievements? 

I am a masters student studying my Legal Practise Course and a Netball Scholar here at NTU.  My personal achievements would be gaining my first cap for Wales in November, representing Loughborough Lightning U21 and also getting to Co-Captain NTU Netball 1’s 

Which women in sport inspire you? 

Ebony Usoro-Brown, she is a well-established England Rose who also did a law degree and completed her LPC whilst she was competing internationally, which I love her. I find her ability to have managed the high work load whilst playing on top form at international level inspiring. 

What does it mean to you to be a female in sport? 

Being a female in sport is empowering, you have the ability to inspire other females to take on something new whilst doing what you love. Being able to play a female dominated sport is a privilege to me as I can be surrounded by strong, like-minded women every day. 

What message would you want to share with women for International Women’s Day? 

There are no limits to what you can achieve. 

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of women in sport? 

It is important that women athletes are given exposure to show the younger generation that sport is for everyone, and to create role models for younger female athletes to see that nothing is impossible. 

What message would you tell your younger self if you got the chance? 

I would tell younger me to believe in myself, have confidence and to not stop trying. 

Zoe Matthewman

We spoke to Tallulah who runs NTU Women’s cricket team.
Which women in sport inspire you?
I really love support Megan Rapinoe and everything she has done and is doing to fight sexist pay in Women’s football – especially in the US.

What does it mean to you to be a female in sport?
It means fighting twice as hard to be better than the men and showing that.

What message would you want to share with women for International Women’s day?
Even if the sport has a predominantly male audience, it doesn’t mean that the sport isn’t for women and even if women have to fight to get a seat at the table, they deserve to be there.

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of women in sport?
Younger generations will see themselves in the women who are role models meaning they will want to do that sport allowing equal representation across the genders.

What message would you tell your younger self if you got the chance?
Probably to invest in Tesla haha!! But also that the interest in sport will go up in the future and the sports that you play will become better through funding and you won’t always have to settle for broken equipment and bad coaching.

We then spoke to Lindsey, she is a scholar on the Women’s basketball team and the plays for the National league team. She played for 4 years at Claremont McKenna in California where I was voted first team all-conference my last 2 seasons.

Which women in sport inspire you?

Mostly women in basketball. I really like Te’a Cooper, Dijonai Carrington and of course Sue Bird. Their passion for the game and ability are inspiring

What does it mean to you to be a female in sport?

It means first to be an athlete like any other I must put in work to make the team better and to further my skills. It also means to encourage other women in sport, especially by giving back and coaching younger athletes so that they know how far they can go. 

What message would you want to share with women for International Women’s day?

To remember that being at the top only matters if we help others get there. For the sake of change, we won’t make a difference if we put other women down to get where we are.

Why is it important that there is representation and exposure of Women in sport?

There are increasing opportunities for women to play competitively this exposure is greatly beneficial as they will act as role models for the future women to push boundaries even further.

What message would you tell your younger self if you got the chance?

To keep having high expectations for myself but definitely in a more encouraging way. The mental side of the game is just as important.


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