Festival aims to motivate and inspire girls towards a positive future

Festival aims to motivate and inspire girls towards a positive future

IM Marsh students
Sport coaching students on grounds of IM Marsh.

Around 400 girls aged 14-16 from Fylde Coast high schools will take part in a range of activities to celebrate International Women’s Day. Sponsored by local organisations and businesses, the event gives young people the chance to take part in fun, interactive workshops, demos and drop-in sessions all with the aim of breaking down barriers to future employment, education, success and wellbeing.

Dr Nic Robinson, programme leader in Sport Coaching at LJMU and festival committee member, explains: "The focus for the event is balance for better, a campaign for a more gender-balanced world. We are addressing a lack of self-belief and ambition and encouraging girls to feel empowered and flourish. We want to facilitate access to positive local role models and mentors within the North West.”

Throughout the day, festival goers will explore six different themed areas. They'll have opportunities to meet female role models, learn how to be more eco-friendly, find out how to keep safe on social media, think about their futures including how to start their own business or find their dream job and try out a range of sports and activities on the 'This Girl Will' field such as rock-climbing, football, first-aid and bush craft.

Nic is looking forward to LJMU’s role in the event with IM Marsh students and staff representing the programmes run out of the campus. Along with Nic, Kelly Massey, who is a lecturer in Physical Education and the ambassador of the festival, lecturers Vicci Boyd, Sarah Nixon and School director Barbara Walsh will be taking part in the event. There will also be a number of students volunteering in the 'This Girl Will' field.

“The main aim of the festival is to inspire and motivate these young people but also celebrate those who have done exceptionally well in the local community. I think there is such a diverse landscape out there for jobs in many different sectors, exposing how people reached these jobs should be done better. Sometimes the easy route is not the most straightforward.”

In her arena specifically, Nic believes there is a lack of young women taking up sport degrees and pursuing careers related to sport and hopes the festival will raise awareness and encourage more girls to consider such careers.

“In coaching and practitioners within the sporting research community there is a lack of females in the elite sporting environment. Women make amazing role models and are unrepresented across this landscape with roles confined to soft tissue or nutrition practitioners. On the contrary to people’s beliefs that sport is a platform for equality and diversity under a banner of ‘Sport for All’, a plethora of research confirms that sport coaching, in particular, remains an arena where interconnecting disparities of race, ethnic background, gender and social background create structured power relations that serve to reinforce patterns of inclusion/exclusion.

“One of the solutions is to better educate and skill more women through university pathways involving sport. Campaigns such as 20 by 20 If She Can’t See It, She Can’t Be It, media coverage of female sport, the increase in female commentators in sport, England's netball squad winning Sports Personality Team of the Year…there is a lot to celebrate for women in sport, but as always more can be done.”

Nic explains how LJMU are addressing the imbalance:

“The University is actively facilitating the development and progression of women through the women’s professor network and within the School, we held a very successful Power of Sport Conference in 2018. At this year’s Conference the opening speakers are both strong female role models from the sporting world.”

And when it comes to her own role models, those who inspire Nic are from all walks of life:

“I take inspiration from the females and males that surround me in everyday life. Everyone has the power to be inspirational, you do not have to have won a gold medal, travelled the world or be successful in business, sometimes addressing daily adult tasks in life are pretty inspirational to me. Things such as a parent managing family situations so that their kids have the best adventure weekends or a practitioner keeping her cool working within a high performing team or how a café manager speaks to their customers or even something as small as holding the door open for someone you don't know and smiling at them. You can take inspiration from people around you every day.”

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in a sport-related field, take a look at the courses on offer at LJMU.


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