MANCHESTER, UK, 16th January — Today, 40 of Britain’s most successful and driven female athletes gathered to launch a unique five-month campaign led by women’s sports charity, the Women’s Sport Trust.
The campaign, named ‘Unlocked’, will see the 40 elite athletes paired with 40 ‘activators’ made up of leading figures from business, sport and media to shape the future of women’s sport. Individually and collectively they will challenge and support each other to unlock media platforms, pitch to investors, speak out on live issues, tell new stories, get into boardrooms and break down assumptions. They will create an unprecedented critical mass of noise and energy to propel women’s sport to the next level.
Tammy Parlour, CEO and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sport Trust says, “Despite increasing profile, we believe the value of women’s sport needs to be unlocked faster, with more impatience and greater ambition. There are still too many closed doors in the sports industry and beyond, which means progress has been uneven, and we see peaks and troughs of attention and investment. That needs to change, and we believe this formidable group of women and our network of high-profile supporters can make it happen.”
2019 saw sportswomen such as US football star Megan Rapinoe talk openly about inequality in sport and she urged athletes to use their platforms to lift others up and change the world for the better. Alongside male stars such as Raheem Sterling, speaking out about racism, this signaled a new era for athletes as they become known as ‘activists’ championing the issues and causes that are important to them.
Athletes for the ‘Unlocked’ campaign have been recruited from 24 different sports with a focus on championing diversity and those who want to make a difference. Sportswomen in this inaugural group include: Lucy Adams champion UK skateboarder and Chair of Skateboard UK; Rachel Choong Para Badminton player who made history by achieving 10 World Championship golds; footballer Karen Bardsley the current longest serving Lioness in the England squad, Alice Dearing only the second black woman to compete for Britain in swimming and a World Junior Marathon champion; Asma Elbadawi a basketball coach who helped overturn the ban on wearing a hijab in her sport and Alice Powell from motorsport , who was the youngest driver, male or female, to win a Formula Renault race in the UK.
Stacey Copeland, the first ever British woman to win a Commonwealth title in boxing, is also part of the group. She says, “Most female athletes are not only concerned about their own sporting ambition but about what impact we can have as role-models and on the future of women’s sport. I want to see more women and girls in non-traditional sports like boxing and I have created my own project ‘Pave the Way’ to do this. I have had success but believe this campaign will connect me to people who can take it to the next level.”
The 40 ‘activators’ will play an important role, opening up their connections and sharing their experiences. Together with the athletes they will form ‘a hive mind’, uncovering the most urgent challenges facing women’s sport and developing ways to tackle them.
Joss Hastings, Vice President, Marketing and Communications of Disney Consumer Products in EMEA will be an activator. She says, “It’s difficult to think of better role-models than sportswomen, but it doesn’t feel they have yet reached the scale of profile and influence that they deserve. I’m excited to hear direct from the athletes about the barriers they face and the opportunities they would really value so we can work together to help drive change.”
During the campaign the athletes will be provided with coaching to make them even more effective influencers and ambassadors, tackling everything from commercial insights to social media skills. They will connect with their activator and work through how they can create tangible actions as well as communicating and learning from their wider peer group. The campaign will also be challenging the public to help get women’s sport #UNLOCKED and share how they did it.