Why supporting women’s sport can be a man’s game too

Tim Cozze-Young

Tim Cozze-Young, who leads the Strategic Marketing Group at Microsoft UK and is the new co-chair of WST’s Funding Development Board, talks about why supporting women’s sport can be a man’s game too.

What part has sport played in your life?
When I was growing-up, I was lucky enough to have the chance to play and enjoy every type of sport, from mini-rugby to racquetball and athletics.

It was when I went to Loughborough University that rugby became my sport of choice, playing County Level and spending a few seasons at Bedford RFC before hanging up my boots and taking up tennis and running.

What do you see as the value of role models and who have been yours?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been inspired by outstanding role models. Individuals at the top of their game, and yet somehow having the time and words to invest in my development. To help me be the best I could be. Encouraging me to achieve more than I thought I could – by generously giving time, advice, energy and positive reinforcement.

At Loughborough, Jim Greenwood stood out as one of the most respected role models within rugby circles, and his advice and guidance were priceless.

Formatively, Jane Poynder was my tennis coach in the under 10 age group, and helped shape a can-do attitude, develop self-belief, solve problems, commit to learning and improvement, work as a team and fine-tune life skills. So much more than a top-spin backhand!

Why do you see the aims of WST as relevant to both men and women? What has motivated you personally to get involved?
I truly believe that sport can offer so much to all individuals, including building self-confidence, improving well-being, forging friendships and being the best you can be. Yet the reality is that women do not have the same level of opportunities to gain these benefits, either through lack of funding or programmes, media coverage or access to inspirational role models. Which is where the work of WST struck a chord with me.
Every day at Loughborough I mixed with a community of high performance individuals and teams, with opportunities not restricted by gender, and that’s an approach I want to support in the broader context of society in general. Whether striving to be an International or have the chance to learn a new sport, the playing field is not level today.

How do you think sport is relevant to business?
From successful coaching and mentoring, to making a commitment to the team and striving to be the best you can be, the value or sport can be seen in the business context, and vice versa. To reach your potential in either sphere requires individual dedication, determination and desire, but a critical factor is also the culture around you, the support from your peers and leaders, and the increased energy that progress and success brings to you and the team around you.

How would you like to see the funding of women’s sport evolve? What do you see as the priorities for the Funding Development Board?
Put simply, the evolution of funding for women’s sport has to accelerate, and this requires individuals and organisations to take positive action to re-balance the opportunities that are accessible to all individuals.

Increasing the amount of funding for women’s sport requires co-ordinated engagement across many groups, including businesses, national governing bodies, athletes and sponsorship management agencies, and it is this step-change that is the key focus of the Funding Development Board.

Each one of us has a role to play, whether consciously directing company sponsorship towards supporting women’s sport, or raising the visibility of women’s sport through the media. There are so many opportunities to make a contribution – if you’re reading this and not yet involved, then I would encourage you to head to www.womenssporttrust.com and start making a difference.