Powerful impact of women’s sport recognised at inaugural #BeAGameChanger Awards

Host of sporting celebrities celebrate the Women’s Sport Trust winners

Women’s sport was firmly in the spotlight last night as a high profile audience, including some of the country’s leading athletes, politicians, journalists and corporate leaders, gathered in central London to celebrate the Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Awards.

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Nicola Adams with Award Sponsor John Treharne (The Gym Group)

Recognising individuals and organisations doing the most to progress women’s sport, the inaugural awards, sponsored by Microsoft, saw winners crowned across a broad range of categories following a huge public vote. Distinguished sporting attendees included Dame Mary Peters, Will Greenwood, Christina Ohuruogo and Chrissie Wellington, along with WST Patrons Kate Richardson-Walsh, Anna Watkins, Maggie Alphonsi and Sophie Christiansen.

Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams MBE received the Sporting Role Model Award, with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson awarded Ambassador of Women’s Sport. Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign received the Inspiring Participation award, with Newton Investment Management and the Women’s Boat Race recognised as Sponsorship of the Year.

The importance of media coverage along with powerful, accessible imagery was a key theme for the evening, with BBC Sport receiving Media Outlet of the Year, Jessica Creighton awarded Journalist of the Year and Skate Girls of Kabul winning Imagery of the Year. There was huge applause in the room when veteran sports journalist Sue Mott was presented with a special award – Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Sport.

Commenting on the huge success of the night, Women’s Sport Trust Co-founder, Jo Bostock said:

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Mercy Brown, Nicole Cooke, Lizzy Yarnold and Baroness Heyhoe-Flint

“Organisations perform better and society works better when women are able to fully play their part. We want to inspire the next generation of women to think “I can”, rather than “girls don’t do that.” We know that sport is one of the most important public arenas that we have – it’s everywhere. This means that sport has the potential to drive social change. By increasing the number and quality of stories in the media, showcasing strong female role models and achieving equality in funding, sport can tell a story about what’s possible if you have a level playing field. But it can only do this effectively if it has more visibility and investment.”

Broadcaster Alice Arnold, chaired a panel of elite sportswomen past and present, who shared their thoughts on the changing attitudes to women’s sport and their hopes for the future. The panel included former England cricket captain Baroness Rachel Heyhoe-Flint OBE, Olympic champion cyclist Nicole Cooke MBE, Skeleton Olympic champion Lizzie Yarnold MBE and promising British weightlifter Mercy Brown.

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Clare Balding

A huge champion for women’s sport, Clare Balding closed the event with a rousing keynote speech – acknowledging the positive movement taking place for funding and profile of women’s sport, but calling on everyone to play their part and consider what they can do to bring about more change. “If your bank doesn’t support any women’s sport, but continues to fund men’s, then write to them to ask why? Do the same for your energy suppliers, retailers and phone companies… It’s the job of all of us to make it happen and create the change.”

Clare also called for Governing Bodies of Sport to be more creative in getting crowds for female sport by better publicising events and pricing tickets more affordably. With major global female sports events taking place this year including the Football World Cup, The Ashes and the Netball World Cup Clare said: “When they look back at the history of women’s sport, this will be the year that it changed.”

Building on Madeleine Allbright’s comment that ‘There’s a place in special hell for women that don’t help other women’, Clare suggested: “I’m pretty sure there’s also a special place in heaven for women that help other women and men that help women too. So be bold, and be brave, and do something to make a difference.”

Full list of #BeAGameChanger Award 2015 winners

Sporting Role Model sponsored by the Gym Group
Nicola Adams MBE

Ambassador of Women’s Sport sponsored by Matrix Fitness
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Inspiring Participation sponsored by Inclusion@Lloyds
This Girl Can

Inspiring Initiative
Wembley match – England v Germany

Media Organisation of the Year sponsored by the 30 Percent Club
BBC Sport

Imagery of the Year sponsored by KPMG
Skate Girls of Kabul

Journalist of the Year sponsored by Promote PR
Jessica Creighton

Sponsorship of the Year sponsored by activbod
Newton Investment Management and the Women’s Boat Race

Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Sport
Sue Mott