THE difficulty in trying to whittle the number of nominees down to a manageable shortlist ahead of the inaugural Scottish Women in Sport (SWiS) awards dinner simply underlined how far women have come in the sporting world.
From Commonwealth medallists and World Cup contenders, to the elite of European and British competition, the list was a lengthy one and the fact that categories cater for the participation, promotion, coaching and administration of the sport reminded everyone championing SWiS just how worthwhile their group can be in helping support those already involved and influencing the next generation.
“The dinner is a way to celebrate the success of women in sport in what has been a significant year for many of them,” said Maureen McGonigle, who had the idea for the charity which was formerly launched a year ago. “It has been a sporting year when women have shone and we want to celebrate that but we also want to help raise the profile of these women and promote their achievements.
“They come from a wide range of sports and backgrounds and to be honest even trying to draw up a shortlist of four or five in each category was a struggle as there were so many worthy winners. I think that proves that women are doing their bit, we just need to do everything we can to help eradicate everyday sexism and make sure that these sportspeople are taken seriously and given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.”
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Having spent the first year spreading their message and enlisting as much financial and government support as possible, the goal is to build on that foundation moving forward.
“We have a strategy and we have presented that to Shona Robison [the Scottish Parliament’s Cabinet Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport] and we are working with other funding agencies because we have so many plans but, like everything it costs money to put many of them in place but people are buying into what we are trying to do and I believe that we are making progress.”
The Gala Awards night, which will be staged at Hampden Park, Glasgow, tomorrow will honour winners from the world of sailing, athletics, basketball and swimming, with the majority of award winners known in advance and only the Sportwoman of the Year yet to be revealed.
Teenager Erraid Davies, who, at the age of 13, became the youngest person to compete for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games and thrilled the nation with a bronze medal in the Tollcross Pool, is set to be presented with the Winning Scotland Foundation Young Sportswoman of the Year trophy.
This summer’s Commonwealth Games proved a wonderful showcase for Scotland’s elite female sports stars, making up 46 per cent of TeamScotland. There were 20 different medallists, who succeeded over seven different sports. With many more women in support roles and members of the CGS Board, the role played by TeamScotland in providing female role models is recognised, winning the sportscotland – 2014 Best Performance award.
“When we started SWiS a year ago, we didn’t have anything like that in Scotland,” said McGonigle. “We knew some attitudes are changing but we want to hurry that along but to do that we have to work closely with male sports and it’s not just about women but anyone who wants to see women in sport get fairer treatment. We have had a lot of support from men and especially from dads of promising young sportswomen who have maybe had their eyes opened a bit and come to realise that change is necessary. We understand that some of the everyday sexism isn’t meant to be malicious but if we leave it unchecked then it can be damaging to the image of women in sport and to the aim of enticing more girls and women to get involved.”
The dinner is a way to offer role models to the next generation of Renicks sisters, Eilidh Childs, Imogen Bankiers, Kim Littles and Katie Archibalds. It is the glamorous culmination of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes – in training arenas, in boardrooms, in offices and schools. And according to McGonigle, it is just the start.
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