This week Alexa Main, a Journalist Student at the University of Stirling tells us a little bit about the inaugural SWIS Gala Awards dinner.
I have been involved in sports since I can remember and I am pretty sure I learned how to walk with a ball at my feet! Prior to University I spent time playing soccer in the US. We played in a stadium nearly the size of Forth Bank and had access to the same physio as our local men’s professional team. In 2012 I started playing for Stirling University’s Ladies Football Club and I have to say it came as a bit of a shock to me when the team struggled to get adequate training times and often ended up with less than substantial sand pitches to play on!
I became involved with youth girls’ festivals through the SFA, and was subsequently invited to attend the first ever Scottish Women in Sport conference. There, I learned about the community of people focussed on driving change for female athletes in Scotland, a demographic I now consider myself to be a part of. When the opportunity arose to join this incredible new force, I realised that I should be doing everything I can to ensure that women athletes everywhere are privy to an equitable environment.
The opportunity to attend the first ever Scottish Women in Sports Gala Award Dinner only fuelled that desire. Not only was I excited for the rare chance to take off my trainers and put on something less covered in mud, but I knew that the event would feature women who had broken barriers and become the role models our young girls should have.
Alison Walker, a role model in her own right, set the mood of the evening right away as an evening of celebration for the continuing growth and success of women in sports, as well as an evening of acknowledgement to what the future may hold and the distance still to be covered.
As anticipated, the awards were definitely a highlight of the evening, as both the sponsors and the recipients of the awards shared their experiences and reasons for becoming involved in the SWiS mission. Eilidh Child shone, per usual, with her tales of competing at the Commonwealth Games, and how she moves forward as an elite athlete. Kimberley Renicks flashed us a glimpse of her gold and several selfies were snapped.
While the awards were the reason we were there, the other events of the night truly made it a night to remember. The quiz brought out the competitive streak in a room full of athletes and sports supporters, as well as a bit of contention as Lesley MacDonald, the captain of the Scotland Netball Team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, disputed the recorded answer about the number of her international caps. General consensus was to go with her answer, based on the fact that, well, she would know. The quizzes and trivia were all in good spirit, and the winners walked away with goodies bags of IQ Chocolate deliciousness and Empowerment Pants.
I’m not sure what other Gala Award Dinners are like, but this seemed more like a gathering of friends and counterparts than a stuffy black tie affair.
The atmosphere not only served to encourage celebration of our Scottish girls and women in sport, but also helped to highlight the community of people dedicated to growing this movement and fighting for the cultural change needed to provide an equitable environment. In the true spirit of SWiS, this first Awards Dinner not only focussed on what has been achieved in the past, but looked forward to what can be done in the future.