In a previous post, I introduced the incredibly successful and well-renowned This Girl Can campaign, which claims to have hugely increased the numbers of women involved with sport.
Some of my friends were scathing of the scheme, claiming it was at times patronising and failed to encourage genuinely equal footing in sport by focusing on rebuffing existing stereotypes. The argued that it ought to focus on creating a sense of genuine acceptance and intrinsic belonging. However, it clearly struck a chord with a number of people.
Its relaunch earlier this year had led to ongoing support and encouragement for many women of different backgrounds and parts of the country, as can be seen on their website. On there, you can read and view all manner of examples, stories, and events in which women are redefining sports in their community.
With this relaunch, I was reminded of some adverts I saw on an underground train station platform a few years ago. These were encouraging women to participate in touch rugby, a sport in which the rules of rugby are roughly followed, but in smaller teams and with the majority of the physical contact removed. The main focus of the adverts was on the fun and social aspects of the game.
While I completely understand that physically demanding sports are not favoured by everyone, and there are people who simply couldn’t and wouldn’t want to play them, it seemed disappointingly focused on the softer values of the game, assuming women would primarily focus on these for their involvement rather than the fitness and challenge aspects.
Because of this, I decided to have a look at recent adverts for women’s rugby – not the touch variety, the full-contact, demanding variety in which women have been competing this month for the World Cup. My findings were very reassuring – some genuinely encouraging and at times very bold images, which treat women as the potential warriors and athletes that they are, in their own right: