I have been involved in women’s sport for many years now and for the last few I years have travelled, been invited to awards, been to many women’s sports events, networks etc. Some have been incredible and others shocking, but the one theme that runs through all of these is that people need to get involved.
Yes, money is great and so much more can be done with money, but actually there has to be a desire and a vision to start with - and that you can’t
I have always wanted to make a difference and in starting the magazine I put both my money and a considerable amount of time where my mouth was and the
feedback and support has been great. In doing this the opportunity came up to become a partner in a women’s rugby 7’s team. The exciting thing for
me is that as a South African rugby runs through my veins and so to combine this with women’s sport is the best of both worlds.
The reason for writing this article is to encourage people to get involved in women’s sport at any level and say that by doing, things happen; by just
talking nothing happens.
I have looked at everything in the same way I would look at any business I am involved in and approached things as professionally as possible. Along
with founder and Coach Nigel Francis we started with a set of values and an ethos we wanted all the women who played for the team to uphold:
• Enjoy playing and have fun
• If you commit to play, keep your word or you are letting the side down
• This is about team not individuals
• No second chances if you break your word
• Professional in all our conduct
We looked at the players we had relationship with and approached them, as relationship is what’s important. Having seen some of the smaller nations
do incredible things because of relationship, we were clear this is how it needed to be done.
Running alongside this we wanted to be respectful of the nations the athletes played for and seek their permission to allow the players to play. We
want to work with unions (national governing bodies) and support the good work they are doing. For me this is a key to women’s sport in general:
if everyone worked together and supported each other, so much more would be done rather than working in silos or duplicating things.
Kit, kit, kit is something people are always talking about and the list of challenges is a long one and so again we looked at it and decided the best
way to support what we are trying to do is create our own from scratch. I’m not saying this is for everyone, it’s only because of my contacts and
previous sourcing experience I did it. But what it gives us is a blank canvas for us to promote and do what we want to do with the kit. We steered
clear of ‘pink it and shrink it’ and came up with something that can work across the genders, appeal to everyone and be used across all the kit
we need. What I also wanted to do was thank the people and companies that have been so supportive of the magazine by putting their logos on the
With all the above sorted I organised a professional photo-shoot with some of the players in a studio wearing the new kit. I did this because I wanted
the players to see that we were serious but also again to be able to give something back to all the sponsors and supports. They can use it for
their own promotion and show how they are supporting women’s sport. With each person and company that talks about women’s sport, the circle of
new people who hear about it and want to know more expands.
It’s not a fairy-tale because the kit still needs tweaking, all the arrangements weren’t perfect and we have learnt a lot. One tournament we were booked
in got cancelled and we lost in the dying seconds of the final in one but won another, so a mixed start but what’s important is that everyone enjoyed
themselves, everyone got on well and had fun playing the game they all love. Isn’t this what’s important? Yes, we all want to win, but not by doing
it at any cost. We
now have a committed group of players who have had a positive experience, we have learnt a lot and will continue to get better and more professional
as we go - but never loosing sight of why we’re doing it. All of this has been achieved on less money than anyone would believe, but we have
done something - and if we can do this then think what you can do in your sport, your country or your team? Let’s do rather than just talk.