The development of women in sport, particularly football, is something I am really passionate about. I hold multiple roles within the university that allow me to make small contributions to this aspiration.
My main position is as Head of Football for the Sport and Active Lifestyles Department. In this role I work with a number of talented and dedicated women who play football at a high level, which is a real privilege.
I am also a PhD student and part-time researcher within the Carnegie School of Sport. My PhD focuses on the experiences of girls from a range of ethnic backgrounds with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in PE. In an increasingly diverse society, it is important to focus on the experiences of a range of people to better understand how the delivery of PE may privilege some, while marginalising others. Much of the external research I have been involved with helps me contribute to the development of women in sport.
Previous research I have been involved in includes an exploration of the principles underpinning the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in Leeds, and a study of the gendered nature of contemporary PE practice. The most exciting recent example is my involvement in a UEFA led research project looking at ways to increase girls’ participation in football. As a result of the research, UEFA have launched its ‘Playmakers’ programme, in association with Disney.
This European wide, grassroots, initiative aims to use elements of storytelling and imaginative play, using Disney films and characters as a basis, to encourage more girls to play football.