Today, we’re giving evidence to the Mayor’s Sport Commission on women and girls in sport. How appropriate then to share this multi-interview from a group of women who know something about the subject, being excellent athletes themselves.
Competing at the top of their game in Ultimate Frisbee, Nice Bristols respond to our questions with some really telling answers. Besides the great poo story, these sportswomen share their passion for sport, the challenges they’ve faced in keeping their spirits up in the face of intense pressure and past disappointments, and also what keeps them going (hint: friendship plays a big part!).
You’ll read a variety of responses from different team members, identified by their shirt number.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your sporting achievements:
“We are Nice Bristols – a top flight women’s Ultimate Frisbee club based in Bristol. The club was founded in 2004 and we are now ranked second in the UK and recently qualified for the World Ultimate Club Championships in 2014. We have also been ‘Spirit of the Game’ winners at both UK Nationals and the European Club Championships for two-years running.
We are international athletes. We are loyal teammates. We are inseparable friends!”
Q. Who are your sporting role models?
#86: “Denise Lewis – I used to love watching her compete and think, how can you be so good in so many disciplines? And the mental toughness and dedication she showed in the 2000 Olympics when she won gold whilst battling injury was incredible!”
#11: “Jonny Wilkinson – not just because of his good looks, he did have an incredible work ethic!”
#25: “My dad and post-apartheid South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar (not the same person!).”
#96: “Laura Trott – perpetually smiling pocket rocket.”
#27: “Jessica Ennis-Hill and Chris Hoy – they are the whole package.”
Q. What would you say has contributed most to your success?
#27: “Enjoying what I do!”
#86: “For me, the main thing that has contributed to our success is our friendship. We all want to compete to the best of our ability, not just for ourselves and for the win, but to win for our team, for our friends.”
#11: “Hard work, desire and lots of time practising!”
#25: “The tight knit community of Ultimate that spurs you on to be the best you can be.”
Q. Was there ever a time when you almost gave up and, if so, what made you keep going?
#22: “I nearly gave up last year but the success of the team kept me going and I’m so happy to be part of the Worlds team now!”
#11: “I almost gave up this summer because it stopped being fun and became a big pressure for me. But once I’d delegated some responsibility and started thinking about the game, and the people, and our team, I got excited about it again!”
#27: “After Worlds in 2004. We had a pretty miserable tournament and a lot of us felt like quitting. I kept playing because I went back to basics, enjoying Frisbee in the park with friends, and built back up from there”
Q. Tell us your most embarrassing sporting story:
#3: “No embarrassing stories. I think that’s the key to our success – we laugh at ourselves and have a good time rather than worry about being embarrassed!”
#4: “Not really a sporting story but when I was 12 I dived into the sea when a load of my brother’s friends were around. I came out of the water thinking I was all cool and realised that my swimsuit had slipped to the side over my chest!”
#96: “What’s embarrassment? I don’t think I have that emotion …”
#25: “Poo glove! European tournament, long drop portable toilets, last day, not such a long drop any more. My glove fell out of my pocket whilst I was on the loo. I weed on it a bit but they were expensive gloves so I fished it out (wouldn’t have been able to reach it a few days earlier)! I rinsed it, put it in a carrier bag, took it home and put it in the sink. I had to leave for another country so I left it there and told my mum to deal with it!”
Q. What more do your think could be done to encourage girls and women to participate in sport?
#3: “More female sports icons and not just on front covers of magazines in skimpy underwear-type sports gear.”
#27: “Make opportunities realistic, social and fun. Give girls a chance to feel capable in sport/physical activity at a young age, regardless of actual ability.”
#86: “I think with women, especially older women who haven’t played sport for a while, you need to encourage a social aspect of it.”
#4: “I think having an encouraging environment is really important. You have to be a fairly resilient girl to be willing to look stupid in front of your classmates at school, especially when there are boys around. The fear of looking stupid can be massively off-putting.”
#22: “More media coverage of women in sport, the BBC have had a couple of women’s football programs which have been excellent.”
Thanks to Nice Bristols for giving us some insight into their sporting lives. We’re pleased to see some of our own recommendations to the Mayor’s Sport Commission reflected in the women’s advice regarding encouraging more girls and women to participate in sport. We too believe that giving girls a chance to feel capable in sport and the training to feel confident that they don’t ‘look silly’ in front of the boys is vital. We’ll also be highlighting the importance of role models and more coverage in the media. What is also evident from Nice Bristols is the importance of the social aspect – enjoying the fun times together and winning not just for yourself, but for your friends.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Ultimate Frisbee or to show your support for our local top-flight team, follow Nice Bristols on Twitter: @NiceBristols
You can also #showup to support Nice Bristols at the World Ultimate Club Championships 2014 being held in Lecco, Italy next year. And keep your eyes on our calendar for more local fixtures…