THIS WEEK YORK IS hosting its This Girl Can Week, alongside a University and national themed week. An array of events and activities will be taking place across campus, aiming to get more female students involved in physical activity, regardless of the standard. These range from inspirational talks from female sporting celebrities, to a women’s only college football tournament.
The event is part of a drive from British Universities and College Sport (BUCS), the governing body for sport in higher education across England, Scotland and Wales. Their official campaign describes that the event is ‘all about encouraging and empowering women to be active in sport and physical activity.’
The themed week was launched in 2015 and has grown every year since. A Sport England survey in 2014 titled ‘the Active People Survey’ found that two million fewer women took part in sport than men. Follow up research in 2017 showed that 2.8 million women have become more active because of the campaign, showing its enormous success.
The main participation event for the week was the women’s football tournament, which began on Saturday 17 November and the week will finish Saturday 24 November. It will take place between York’s various colleges, as for the first time all colleges have enough active participation. Next term, the tournament will be expanded into a league format, much like those that currently exist in men’s football. Although only in a five-a-side format for the tournament and college league, those involved in its organisation are hopeful that it can be expanded to the full eleven-a-side format soon. Derwent have had the most interest, with enough enthusiasm to field several teams. A huge amount of credit must go to those who have helped this event get off the ground, especially Women’s football President Maddi Cannell.
Alongside the football tournament, there are other sports hosting introductory sessions. The University Handball Club held a session on Sunday, introducing attendees to the basics of the game. Jiu-jitsu also held a session last night, catering for those who are interested in combat sports. Rugby will be the last taster session, which takes place this Sunday afternoon on 22 Acres. It seems fitting that Rugby will be the final event of the week, given how successful the women’s side have been recently. They went the entirety of the 2017-18 season unbeaten, earning promotion to the Northern 1A League. So far this year, the team have won all six of their matches, conceding 32 points but scoring a staggering 257. The taster session on Sunday will cover the necessary basics of rugby, and will no doubt inspire more York students to get involved in one of the best sporting societies on campus.
Swimming sessions will be available on Tuesday and Friday between 2pm and 4pm at the York Sport Village, to encourage more female students to get involved. Weight sessions will be held at the same time on Monday and Thursday. This type of activity is right at the heart of This Girl Can Week, as weight sessions and gym work are often male-dominated, sometimes putting women off visiting the gym. Aerobics is also available on Wednesdays, with both a HIIT (High- Intensity- Interval- Training) workout and a general workout afterwards. Aerobics have made great efforts this year, also hosting a Bring a Boy event earlier this term to raise money for men’s mental health. Pole society will also host an event on Friday in James Hall, between 4-5pm.
A free event will take place on Heslington East on Thursday night, featuring female sporting celebrities. Tanya Arnold, a BBC Sport journalist, will interview two of the Four Mums in a Boat, the inspirational quartet who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. There will be a showing of the award-winning National Geographic documentary about their journey before a Q&A session afterwards. This is set to be a fascinating event, a chance to hear from two inspirational women who broke a world record and inspired huge numbers of people.
With so many activities and events on offer, it looks set to be an inspiring week for women’s sport on campus. From jiu-jitsu to pole society, there is a considerable variety of activities, hopefully tailoring to the interests of all. The week has proven to be immensely successful when ran both on and off campus, so it should be no different here in York. For more information, visit the York Sport Union website or Facebook.