Guernsey Press

LISTEN: ‘There are lots of positives about local women’s sport’

There are ‘lots of positives’ to be taken from how women’s sport has developed in Guernsey – but also room for further improvement.

L-R: Anja Jones, Andrea Nightingale and Nicky Will speaking on a special edition of the Guernsey Press Sport Podcast. (Pictures by Peter Frankland, 33041301)

That is according to Nicky Will of the Guernsey Sports Commission, who joined world age-group champion aqua-biker Andrea Nightingale and Up Climbing’s Anja Jones for a special Guernsey Press Sport Podcast to celebrate International Women’s Day.

‘There’s lots of things to celebrate,’ Will said.

‘We have any number of local sporting organisations who do a fantastic job for women and girls, offering special sessions, making sure they’re included.

‘But I still think there’s a lot more that we could do.’

  • Listen to the full interview on this week’s Guernsey Press Sport Podcast special

She has hailed the ‘great role models’ in island women’s sport, be it high-achieving athletes like England footballer Maya Le Tissier, or development officers, coaches, and teachers in various activities.

But she is also aware of drop-out rates and generally lower participation in girls compared to boys.

‘Somewhere along the way, girls feel that sport isn’t for them.’

Nightingale suggested that the word ‘sport’ can be off-putting.

That is coming from a great ambassador for both veterans’ and women’s sport, who got into cycling aged 52, and at 60 won her first age-group aqua-bike title. She has several other age-group titles and medals to her name.

‘We all think of sport, and we all think about those kind of [traditional] activities, but if we badged it in a different way, possibly, then we’d get more engagement.’

Jones, who admitted she was ‘painfully shy’ as a teenager when she started climbing, agreed.

‘Sport sometimes has the connotation of competitiveness about it.

‘One of the great things about climbing is it’s not competitive with other people. It’s all about, “Can I do better myself?”

‘There’s loads of people around, and everyone’s just so psyched to see someone get something.’

Nightingale also highlighted the variety of sporting activities now offered in schools compared to when she was a student.

In the continued push to promote sport for young girls, Will suggested that inspirational people and even more opportunities in schools could be part of the way forward.

‘It’s maybe about bringing different people in, different inspirational people – Andrea’s talked about how she came very late to sport, and look what she’s achieved,’ she said.

‘Bringing different voices in, different opportunities. It could be that it’s yoga or it’s stretching, or pilates. Anything like that. As long as people are being active, improving their physical health, improving their mental health, I think that’s great.’

All three podcast guests highlighted the value of women-only sessions, for both children and adults.