The Voice Online – Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Awards Article

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Powerful Impact of Women’s Sport to be Recognised at the #BeAGameChanger 2016 Awards

The Women’s Sports Trust #BeAGameChanger awards, supported by Microsoft, showcase the irresistible nature of women’s sport. They highlight success stories, raise the profile of inspiring role models and connect decision makers with one another. The Women’s Sports Trust raises the visibility and increases the impact of women’s sport through promoting role models, increasing media coverage and improving funding.

These prestigious awards are now in their second year and the event will place women’s sport firmly and rightfully in the spotlight. The general public and those in the sports industry put forward a record number of nominations resulting in an impressive shortlist. An expert panel has chosen the finalists and the public vote opens on the 18th April – 1st May, so you can have your say on the winners too! Winners will be announced on 12th May on the awards night to a high profile audience, including some of the country’s leading athletes, politicians, journalists and corporate leaders.

Awards like these are important in showcasing positive role models in sport and business. The awards will help to shine a light on phenomenally talented athletes and people working in sport to create change and redress inequalities thus helping to increase the number and quality of stories in the media, showcasing strong female role models. Increased visibility for sportswomen is vital as sport can tell a story about what’s possible if you have a level playing field. But it can only do this effectively if it has more visibility and investment.

These awards are unique in uncovering some of the best diverse talent out there both on and off the sports field. This year is no exception with some fantastic nominations. Some of the highlights for me include a nomination for ambassador of women’s sport for Ebony Rainford-Brent a former English cricketer, who was the first black woman to play for the England team and also captained the Surrey Women’s team. Since retiring from cricket, Ebony has gone on to become the first Director of Women’s Cricket at Surrey County Cricket Club; pundit for the BBC flagship radio programme Test Match Special and is one of the first female expert summarisers to commentate on men’s international cricket matches.

Another inspirational figure nominated in the ambassador category is Annie Zaidi. Annie was the first South Asian and Muslim woman in her region to get a FA level two coaching certification badge. Annie is the Girls Academy coach at the Leicester City Centre of Excellence and has overcome discrimination to succeed as a football coach. She is currently working towards her UEFA B license. Annie says ‘My attitude was that they could take my ball away, my boots away, but one thing they couldn’t take away was my passion’

A brilliant and well-deserved nomination is for the multi talented England footballer Eniola Aluko who plays for Chelsea Ladies and is also an accomplished sports lawyer. 2015 was certainly a year Eniola will never forget from winning the Women’s Super League and FA Cup double with Chelsea, meeting the world famous Pele and receiving her solicitor’s certificate of admission.

Finally the awards recognize those inspiring grass roots sports initiatives like minority sports that we may not have heard of before. Enter onto the pitch – Cage Cricket a fast-paced version of the game designed for confined urban spaces. Programmes are being delivered within socially, geographically and economically challenged communities in the UK and Caribbean. Cage Cricket overcomes the barriers that prevent most people playing cricket: lack of time, space, money and the sport’s old-school elitist image.

The expert judging panel includes a diverse group of people including Connie Henry; a former international triple jumper and now Director of the sport for development programme Track Academy. The Voice’s very own Leon Mann is also a judge; Leon is a leading broadcaster, consultant and film-maker. Other judges include Andy Barrow; a triple Paralympian and three-time European gold medalist in wheelchair rugby and sports lawyer and a director of Women in Football Liz Ellen.

The awards recognize trailblazers! So get involved and vote.