This Girl Can Week takes place at Goldsmiths from Monday 13th November - a week of free activities encouraging more women to get involved in sport. Eva, SU President, sat down with Imogen, Captain of the Cheerleading team, to chat women in sport, role models, and sport at Goldsmiths to kick off the week.
How did you first get involved in sport?
I’ve always been involved in sport. I used to go swimming, did a bit of netball, and tried dance (but wasn't very good at it), and I’ve done gymnastics since I was in primary school. I remember from school wanting to be on the football team, the rugby team - I just wanted to do everything and try anything.
How do you think your involvement in sport has changed since you’ve grown up?
I think it's changed in a sense that I’ve actually wanted to get more involved in it. I knew that when I came to Uni I wanted to join a team - if I could be on Women's Rugby and Hockey I would, but I just don’t have enough time! When I was at college there weren't many sporting opportunities, but I remember when I came to Goldsmiths I saw that they had a Cheer team and I knew I wanted to get involved.
What obstacles do you feel prevent women from getting involved in sport?
The stigma around women in sport is still present. For example the England Women's Football Team just did so well, but people were still talking about whether the players were on their periods. There's still a stigma around women being just as good as men, if not better.
Money is also a massive factor. It can be really expensive to get into sport, and I think quite often it’s a combination of not feeling like you’re good enough and your finances setting you back.
How did you approach these obstacles?
Cheer is more female orientated sport here. In fact we’ve only had two men on the team since I've been here, so we haven't had to face a lot of those obstacles.
I feel like because Goldsmiths is so inclusive I know that if I wanted to join a team that wasn't Cheer I could because they are always so welcoming.
Is your sport competitive, and if so do you think competitive women are treated differently to competitive men?
I think often women's sport gets treated as a hobby whereas men's get treated as their life. You see competitve women being interviewed and asked when they are going to have a baby, like when Jessica Ennis retired because she had a child and she was getting asked 'oh, is it because you want to be with your child more?'. When was the last time someone asked Usain Bolt when he was going to stop and have a child?
Women get held back because people think this is something they do until they have children and that competing can only be a phase in their life before they go into a career in which they can have children.
What’s it like being on a team?
Its great! You get to meet people who you wouldn't have met otherwise, of all ages, from all kinds of courses, from all walks of life, and you get to build lasting friendships!
What are some highlight memories of your time doing uni sport?
I was going to say when we won the Nationals last year, but I think maybe last year at Varsity when the team stuck together and showed great sportsmanship. We didn't rise to anything [negative], and just focused on putting out a good, clean routine. It was great to see our team being so supportive of the other team even though we were competing; the maturity of the team made me so proud.
Tell me something I might not have known about your sport or team?
We don't use pom poms!
Who are some women in sport that you admire?
I think Kelly Holmes. I remember when I was younger she was also my number 1! I recently watched a documentary about her that said she had fought depression and suicidal tendicies throughout her career because she couldn't reach her personal best for so long. But then she did! And her face when she won but didn't know she had won was great.
How does being in a sports team at uni affect your confidence?
It definitely improved my confidence, especially when I came to uni and didn't know anyone. It was really nice to know I could meet people with similar interests at training, and to go on socials. Just being part of something like a team and feeling like part of a community at uni is so nice.
Do you see yourself continuing being involved in sport in the future?
I won't stop doing Cheer. I will try and join a team when I leave uni, or join Lions as an alumuni member. I like tennis, but I’m not very good at it, but I might give it a try. I find going to the gym really boring so I’d much rather be part of a team and train a few times a week than do that.
Do you have any advice for women just getting into or considering sport?
Just do it! I think people feel worried when they start at Univeristy that the standard is already really high and that they don't have the skills, but just go in with the mentality that nobody is better than you and everyone is at the same level. Just throw yourself into it, as long as you vaguely know what you're doing it will be alright!
Find out more about the Cheer Team and try their free This Girl Can session at 7pm on Monday 13th November.