This Girl Can

HannahWe’re bombarded with health messages all the time; eat your five a day, drink at least two litres of water a day and exercise regularly. Food and water, some would see, as simply requirements we need in order to survive. Exercise, however, isn’t considered as important and is often the last thing people want to do to improve their lifestyles.

While exercise is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it can also be great for meeting new people, team building and improving confidence. In order for this to happen, people often need encouragement and role models to inspire them to keep fit and healthy. Here lies the problem…

Women’s sport is rarely shown on the television. This is a real shame as we have some great female sports teams and sportswomen in the UK. Considering the number of hours both men and women spend watching football and rugby on just one weekend alone, I find it difficult to understand why so few have the same urge to tune in to watch people like Katarina Johnson-Thompson win the pentathlon gold medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships last week.

How are women, both young and old, meant to take inspiration from these great sporting superstars when they are so rarely shown in the media? And when they are, they’re on a sports channel that you have to pay extra to tune in to.

Last year, I went up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to watch the England Netball team take on New Zealand. I often have to justify why I play netball to men who think it “isn’t a real sport”, so I was surprised by the reaction from both people on Twitter and my male friends who were all glued to the TV in what was a nail-biting finish. This proved that women’s sport can be just as exciting as men’s.

With this in mind, I was encouraged to find the This Girl Can initiative by Sport England, which aims to inspire women of all ages to participate in physical activity and exercise. According to their research, women are less likely than men to become active because of body image and competency fears. These fears can start from a young age and may put women off joining a sports team or taking up a sport they have never tried before. A tribute film by some of the BBC’s best-known female presenters supports the message that, as a society, we need to acknowledge and then break down the emotional barriers that stop a lot of British girls from getting active.

I hope the TV adverts and posters for this campaign inspires more women to take part in exercise, whether it’s through joining a local sports team or taking up an exercise class. Subsequently, it would be great to see more televised women’s sports and it’s encouraging that the BBC will be broadcasting every game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada this year. Let’s hope that people tune in and this is the start of a better showcasing of women’s sports. You never know, you or your daughter could be the next Serena Williams or Jess Ennis…

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