We stand on the shoulders of giants, but in the case of sport most of the time we don’t have a clue who these heroic female pioneers are.
As we walk around our cities, visit our sports stadia, we encounter plenty of men’s sports memorabilia – statues, photographs, and stories of sporting heroes. They serve as reminders of wonderful sporting moments; memories, or stories, passed down through generations.
But where are all the women? In the UK there are just two statues of named sportswomen, versus almost 200 of sportsmen. In London there are just two Blue Plaques for sportswomen. The invisibility of these stories continues to promote the myth that women and sport are an unseemly combination.
We at the Blue Plaque Rebellion know that’s just not true. Women’s sports stories from the past are a treasure trove of inspiration, heroism, and incredible sporting feats. If it is hard to be a sportswoman now, imagine how hard it was 50 or 100 years ago. Think what barriers these incredible women would have overcome for the love of their sport.
We want to share those stories with future generations. Join us in celebrating these extraordinary sportswomen, of all backgrounds, and help us campaign for a public platform to secure their legacy.
Explore the stories of these incredible sportswomen here.
Watch the BBC Facebook Live with Judy Murray here.
What is the Blue Plaque Rebellion?
In the UK, there are just two statues of named sportswomen, versus almost 200 of sportsmen. In London, there are just two Blue Plaques for sportswomen. The invisibility of these stories betrays the achievements of pioneers, and hampers the progress of women’s sport today. Women’s sports stories from the past are a treasure trove of inspiration, heroism, and incredible sporting feats. We want to share those stories with future generations.
What will we do?
We are working with sports governing bodies, English Heritage and local councils to campaign for a public platform to secure the legacy of pioneering sportswomen from history. The first stage is to unearth the stories, and share them on social media, in newspapers and on TV and radio. We are doing this using temporary blue plaques, on location of great sporting achievements – or on buildings where sportswomen lived – and retelling their stories on camera.
Who is behind the Rebellion?
Anna Kessel MBE and the Women’s Sport Trust. Anna came up with the idea after research for her book Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives revealed the appalling lack of recognition for sportswomen from history. Determined to change this, Anna contacted Jo Bostock and Tammy Parlour, co-founders of WST, and together launched the campaign at the #BeAGameChanger awards night in May 2017. Pan Macmillan published Anna’s book, and are assisting with the promotion of the paperback version being released in July 2017 by providing filming, resource and publicity help in getting the message out to the national media.
We need you to help us unearth stories from history about incredible sportswomen. Maybe your grandmother was the first woman on the board of a football club, maybe a female motorcycling renegade of the 1920’s grew up on your street, maybe you’ve come across the story of golf’s first female caddy or the first British asian sportswoman, or the first female Paralympic hero. Tweet us your stories, or a message of support, using @BluePlaqueRebel and the hashtag #RecogniseHer