A group of 35 elite female athletes including football stars have been unveiled as the latest cohort of The Women’s Sport Trust programme Unlocked, which aims to tackle the issue of diversity in sport.
The programme, now in its second year, aims to help athletes ‘accelerate change’ across the industry by engaging a number of sportswomen at different points in their elite careers, and offering an insight into the challenges and opportunities that exist in women’s sport.
Representing 27 different sports, the 35 names - including the likes of England footballers Nikita Parris and Caroline Weir, World Champion wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, Rugby League England international Jodie Cunningham, and England netball Kadeen Corbin - the programme gives the group access to experts from across the sport, business and media worlds as well as their own ‘activator’, an industry figure to act as a mentor.
Launching the programme, The Women’s Sport Trust also released a short film featuring a poem by Commonwealth Champion boxer Stacey Copeland, who took part in the inaugural year of the programme, and wrote about her experience. The poem, ‘Our Time’ charts the rise of women’s sport and the importance of women coming together to inspire change.
Change is coming and this is our time.— Women's Sport Trust (@WomenSportTrust) April 7, 2021
Leading female athletes, unite to unlock the future of women’s sport.https://t.co/8Nw38YJfh4 #unlocked @glorious_sport @scopelandboxer pic.twitter.com/JLnpeq0DWH
“It has been a challenging year for many, but as we come out of COVID-19, there is no better time to turbo-charge our effort and continue to unlock the value of women’s sport,” said Tammy Parlour, CEO and Co-Founder, The Women’s Sport Trust.
“We believe the best way to do this is by supporting these elite women and connecting them together. Individually they are strong advocates for change but together they are unstoppable.”
The programme will include workshops, as well as opportunities for the group to hear from industry insiders as well as their ‘activator’, and aims to create a ‘lasting network’ of those working within the sport industry, and those shaping elite sport on the pitch.
Great Britain Hockey player, Sarah Evans, who is one of the athletes on the 2021 programme said: “I strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to play sport, be a coach, or hold positions of power in sporting institutions and in boardrooms. It is not good enough that the sporting landscape currently looks like it does. Many sports, like my own, are not diverse enough. I want to be able to enact positive change to help sports become more inclusive.”
Parlour added: “Unlocked has proven to be a gamechanger for the sports industry providing a model for how to empower sportswomen effectively, showing the power of actions, not words, in tackling diversity. We can’t wait to see what this year’s group will achieve.”