The Culture, Media and Sport Committee published its first report on Women and Sport in July 2014 — and, whilst things look a lot better than in previous years, there is still much to be done. Not least in the area of journalism. The Women and Sport report highlights that only two of the Press Gazette’s top 50 sport journalists in 2012 were women; the current membership of the Football Writers’ Association is thought to be 4% female; and there has never been a woman chief football correspondent.
So it gives us great pleasure to announce that our very own Susie East has gone from Sport Watch Bristol volunteer and contributor to an internship with CNN International Sport. This January she started working at their digital sports news desk. The post is very well deserved for a hard-working and talented woman, such as Susie. She is a role model to others who wish to embark on a career in sports journalism and she is a role model to us as someone with a can-do, go get ’em attitude!
Susie took some time out of her new CNN sport reporting life in London to inspire others by speaking with us.
Q. What was your first experience of sport? How did that develop to where you are now? I’m not sure if this counts, but my earliest memory of sport was cycling round and round the back garden when I was about 6 years old. I still remember the excitement of that – feeling like my little red bike was a rocket on wheels and relishing every bump and corner to whizz round. And I’m still going in circles today! I love trying out loads of different sports, and over the years have got stuck into frisbee, ping pong, badminton, squash, boules, cycling, running, football, surfing, netball, discus and tennis. A bit of an all-rounder you could say…!
Q. Who were your sporting role models as a child? How about now? Growing up, I loved to watch tennis. My sporting role models were Venus Williams (because she was the best) and Justine Henin (because she held her own despite being pretty short for a tennis pro). Today, my role models are Serena Williams (because she’s the best – sorry Venus…) and Nicola Adams (because she’s made boxing history and is also out and proud).
Q. Was there ever a time when you almost gave up and, if so, what made you keep going? I used to play tennis around five times a week when I was younger, up until I was 18. I decided to tone down the amount of tennis I was playing, which was a really hard decision. In many ways, it felt like I was giving up. It’s difficult when a lot of time, money and effort are spent getting to a certain level and then realising that you’re not ready (or don’t actually want to) take the next step. But that didn’t mean that I gave up on sport (or tennis for that matter). Instead, I changed the way I engaged with sport and discovered that I’m the kind of person that loves to jump into new and entirely different experiences as often as possible. I’m really proud of all my achievements in my (slightly random) collection of sports! What made me keep going? Endorphins, probably.
Q. How would you motivate someone to get active and engaged in sport? I would drag the person to a ping pong table, get to a rally of 10, and then have a serious conversation about training every day in order to qualify for the next Olympics. Failing that, I would probably apply for a job in sports journalism and focus on covering more female athlete’s stories to inspire women and girls to get involved (check!).
Q. How important are sports fans and the audience to sport? Fans are ridiculously important to any sport. If a team doesn’t have fans, then they’re not going to get media interest, and in turn won’t get sponsorship or funding. Considering that so many female athletes put in the same amount of effort as their male counterparts (or more – as they often have to hold down part-time jobs), and provide excellent stories, personalities, and sporting achievements, it makes little sense that their fan bases are relatively small. There are incredible women out there who are redefining sport in so many ways – from baseball’s Mo’Ne Davies (at 13 years old she pitches at 70mph), to gymnastics’ Claudia Fragapane (winning 4 gold medals at 2014’s Commonwealth games). Being a fan doesn’t have to mean chanting football songs and screaming at referees – it can be whatever you want it to be: following Jessica Ennis on Twitter, sharing a story about Rebecca Addlington, going to watch Bristol’s roller derby, tuning in to England’s netball matches on TV, or even just talking with your friends about how incredible this run was (keep an eye on Floria Guei in 4th place).