It's been quite a week for WSIHE women what with Jess Breach marking her senior England rugby union team debut with six tries and skier Zoe Karavasili adding regional success to the gold medal she won in the Under 21 national championships earlier this year.
So in British Universities and Colleges Sport’s This Girl Can Week we focus our extended round-up on the achievements of our female athletes.
The This Girl Can campaign was launched by Sport England in January 2015 to encourage more women to participate in sport and physical exercise. According to the Active Lives Survey the campaign seems to have made a difference.
There are still challenges though.
BUCS This Girl Can Week recognizes this but operates as “an opportunity to highlight the breadth of opportunities for women to get active and play sport during their time at university.” University of Chichester Student Union president Lauren Ellis organised a range of activities throughout this week of action for female students to take part in.
She said, “We’ve had various events this week to get people that are already playing sport to do a little bit more and for those that aren’t taking part in sport to get active and do some exercise and get involved. We had lots of help from Everyone Active in Chichester at the local leisure centre. They came to us to do a lot of sessions and opened up their sessions at the centre for students and staff to go along for free which was good.
“Then our sports clubs ran sessions that were opened up to girls that could go along to and see if they enjoyed the sport. The focus with these was very much go along have fun and enjoy it whilst exercising and being active at the same time.
“After This Girl Can Week we want to help students that did get involved with it to carry on this involvement with sport. We want to help them find opportunities whether that’s here at the university or at the local leisure centre or at a local club. I think there’s still lots of students that maybe didn’t take the chance to join a sports club but maybe in the new year that’s when we could push this again and get clubs to open their doors and say just come along and join in. I just want people if they want to get involved to get involved really.”
Ellis was also part of the women's football team that picked up their third Prem South win on the spin in Cardiff. The hosts took the lead on the half an hour mark against the run of play but WSIHE captain Sophie Phelps equalised five minutes before the interval. Hannah Reed, who got the assist for the winner two weeks ago against league leaders Hertfordshire, earned her side three points with a super free kick in the 60th minute. After the game Phelps said, “We started the game well but then went a goal down. They gained confidence but we responded, got ahead and stayed strong defensively to secure the win.”
Women's twos won for the third week in a row on the road beating UCL 4-0 in the cup out on Hackney Marshes. They face King's College London in the quarter-finals in the new year.
WSIHE's biggest women's club netball are keen supporters of This Girl Can. Netball president Ella Veal said, “I think the This Girl Can campaign is a great initiative and it encourages all women to get involved in sport. We’ve got two social teams in netball that take part in a local league. This gives people who play other sports a chance to play netball as well. Some students have big course commitments so a Thursday night works for them and it gives them an opportunity to join in with the sport if they can’t commit to training three times a week with us and a match on Wednesday.
“We had our mixed netball tournament on Monday to fit in with the This Girl Can campaign. We had 17 teams playing netball in the dome made up of players from other clubs, people’s housemates and friends. People we haven’t seen here before. That was a really successful fund-raiser for our club and Dementia UK who we are also supporting.”
Veal added, “The netball club is doing really well this year. Our five teams are all in strong positions in the league at the moment. Our firsts are third which is much higher than we expected. The seconds are in mid-table and our threes have won all their league games so far and are top of the league. Our fours are mid-table but have games in hand and our fives are also flying at the top of their league. In fact they’re absolutely smashing it. They haven’t lost a game so far and they’ve won them all really convincingly. Hopefully we'll get some promotions this year”
Netball firsts beat Southampton at home in the trophy 64-45 this week but the fives fell to St. Mary's threes in the conference cup, a team from a higher tier.
Jane Lomax, a senior lecturer in the university’s Institute of Sport and an England Netball tutor and assistant coach at Surrey Storm said, “We’re trying to develop netball at Chichester across lots of different levels. We’ve got the local league on a Thursday evening here, we’ve got the county training here alongside the five BUCS teams and the two development teams but the layer we were missing was the contact with the higher performance level and local children. So with Surrey Storm now we have age group based hubs around the whole South East/London region and Chichester is hosting an Under 17 one and an Under 19 one for talented youngsters to come on campus for training. We’ve got strength and conditioning provided by our Masters students and coaches are employed to work with the players and they’re going to have a tournament up at Surrey Sports Park in a couple of weeks playing against all the other hubs.
“I think the This Girl Can initiative is absolutely brilliant. There aren’t enough girls out there as role models for all our young women. We still have lots of girls who don’t have the opportunity or don’t have the confidence to take part in sport and those that do need that confidence building to make long-term involvement in sport choices. So to have a focus on women and sport is brilliant because that brings it to the fore and puts it out there and the girls can enjoy a bit of media attention which they don’t get enough of.
Speaking about WSIHE netball, she said “We lost a lot of players last year who graduated. Pretty much all of the starting seven from the first team graduated. So for us to be doing as well as we are with a whole new team is delightful for the future. What we need to do is hang in there in that division this year and start to work on the other teams and see whether we can sneak maybe one or two of them up. And if the fifth team can win their league - brilliant.”
Women’s tennis were knocked out of the second round of the cup away at King’s College in challenging conditions. Rebecca Farrow and Leonie Stiefermann put up a real fight in their doubles match going down 13-11 in a deciding tie-break. The other pair of Holly Ryan and Maddie Payne lost 3 and 2. Farrow had another battle in singles but couldn’t quite come through a second set tie-break and King’s picked up straight sets wins in the other three singles. The tennis players are in the top half though of a tough league this year with the likes of Sussex, Reading and Brunel and face Hertfordshire next in the last fixture before the break.
Beth Yeoman together with Jack Raison, Jordan Brown, Josh Henderson, Charles Kelly and James Jardine have built a pretty much unassailable lead in Southern 2A for mixed golf. They are unbeaten but it looks like Imperial gave them their toughest contest so far this week.
Women's futsal. who had an excellent season last year in the league and beyond, are going well again. They haven't lost a match yet and have notched an impressive goal difference. Third place Brighton are up next this weekend.
Elsewhere in women's sport badminton are top of their league, our volleyballers are second and the un-beaten lacrosse team is in the mix in third place with games in hand.
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