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Monday Week 9 saw the launch of the student union’s ‘This Lancs Girl Can’ campaign. The slogan has stemmed from the national ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, which aims to push the fact that females are just as capable of partaking in sport as males. British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) announced that the 30th November would mark the start of their Women In Sport week alongside their ‘This BUCS Girl Can’ initiative, so this week was the perfect time for Lancaster to kick off their campaign, which is set to run all the way up to Roses.
Numerous events and activities have been organised throughout the week, with a different focus every day. On Monday and Tuesday women’s bar sports was celebrated, then on Wednesday the women’s BUCS features were to be showcased. Some of these fixtures did go ahead, such as Netball and Women’s Basketball, however many of the outdoor games were unfortunately called off due to unfit pitches. The organisers didn’t let this put them off however, and a Women’s Football versus Women’s Rugby event was set up instead, with the teams playing each other at each sport for thirty minutes each. This was a great event in which the teams came together to celebrate female participation in both sports and is something that they now plan to make a termly event.
On the Tuesday of Women In Sport week, Bailrigg FM hosted a discussion show centred around ‘This Lancs Girl Can’ and the issues surrounding it. Natalie Sutcliffe (VP Activities) appeared on the show and confirmed the campaign’s two main aims. Not only is it an attempt to increase female participation in sport, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate all of the women at the university who are already actively participating in sport, giving them the confidence to be proud and vocal about their sporting achievements. The campaign hopes to lead to the eradication of any shame or embarrassment that females may feel around sport, due to the feared opinions of their male counterparts or otherwise.
Another guest on the talk show was Furness Netball captain Louise Raithby. She spoke of her personal experiences in sport growing up and her passion to inspire girls who shy away from sports teams due to being under the impression that they don’t look like athletes. This is another important aspect of the campaign. It isn’t just ‘athletic’ or physically fit girls who are being celebrated, any girl can play sport. Even for women who don’t consider themselves sporty, there’s also a big push on just being active. To support this, on Thursday of Women In Sport week a Christmas ‘Zumbathon’ was organised, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.
Discussion on the radio show went on to consider why women should engage in sport. Beth Fletcher (Women’s Rugby Health and Safety Officer) was keen to promote the benefits of being part of a sports team aside from the opportunity to keep fit and healthy. She spoke of her experience in her own team and how the girls are a support network for each other on and off the rugby field.
The final issue that was brought up by host Ishan Ganjoor was surrounding the representation (or lack of) of sportswomen in the media. All three of the guests agreed that there is a disappointing lack of coverage of female sports both on television and in the news. The achievements of the England Women’s Rugby team was mentioned, who to only a small number of people’s knowledge won the last World Cup. It was also pointed out that women’s sporting achievements in newspapers tend to only receive a small section in the corner of a page. This however, is not the case in SCAN newspapers.
Overall, ‘This Lancs Girl Can’ has got off to a great start this week and it will be exciting to see what other activities and events the campaign has planned throughout the rest of the year and at Roses 2016. Hopefully it will be very successful in giving all women the reassurance and confidence to throw themselves into sport across campus.
If you would like to listen to the podcast of Bailrigg FM’s discussion show on this subject, you can access it here: