Sport is full of stereotypes, but these barriers are slowly being broken down. Whether it’s Sir Steven Redgrave proving that diabetes is not a hindrance, Lewis Hamilton as the first black F1 driver or Brian Ashton as one of the first Rugby Union coaches from a working class background; discrimination in sport is at an all-time low. But do gender stereotypes discourage women from getting involved in sport here at York?
The standard of sport at York may not be on par with the likes of Loughborough, but women’s sport here is an emerging force. Women’s Cricket reached the BUSA Indoor Cricket Championships Finals last season, while just a few weeks ago Women’s Rugby thrashed Newcastle University 111-0.
Both Women’s Football and Women’s Rugby reported that record numbers signed up at the AU Mart, and more women are attending training than ever before. UYWRFC President Karen Barber believes that stereotypes are not the main barrier to participation, but the lack of opportunities: “the problem is not a lack of interest or fear of being considered manly. We find girls aren’t getting into rugby simply because it isn’t offered to them at a young age. This lack of opportunity for girls is our main concern, not what people think of us.”
In addition to the performance of the English Women’s Football team at the World Cup this summer, England’s women won bronze at the European Hockey Championships, securing 2008 Olympic qualification. Despite being light years away financially, female sport in this country is in the ascendancy.
Being the first female AU President in 13 years, I am well aware of the male dominance in sport. However, the fact that 22 presidents of the 54 sports clubs are female speaks volumes about the flourishing status of female sport on this campus.
Nightmarish visions of a cold and wet games afternoon are far from the reality of university sport. Sport at York encompasses everything from surfing to parachuting, via canoe polo and martial arts. And we have more sports clubs than Loughborough.
Your time here is the best opportunity to try something new, and whether it’s rugby or chess; it’s all about getting involved. Everyone comes to University to get a degree, what else are you going to get out of three years at York?