The Crystal Palace FC Foundation were delighted yesterday to have a full house at Selhurst Park as we teamed up with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and Union Learning Fund (ULF) “Achievement Through Sport” to deliver an inspiring Conference to encourage the next generation of women and young girls that a career in sport is achievable to all.
The conference hosted by CPFC Foundation Trustee Christine Double has a trio of guest speakers – champion weightlifter, Jo Calvino, award winning dance company entrepreneur, Leanne Pero and Reading FC’s Development officer and taekwondo expert, Jay Gilbert, as well as part-host and key note speaker, Sky Sports presenter, Vicky Gomersall.
The architects of the Conference, Crystal Palace FC Foundation Sports Development Director, Gary Mulcahey, Community Development Director, Soye Briggs and the PFA’s Riz Rehman, were keen to demonstrate that pathways in the sport industry are not exclusive to elitist athletes. The Foundation believes that there are numerous sporting opportunities available to young women that are not readily explored and were eager to champion the message that sport can be inclusive to anyone with a passion to be involved in it.
The Conference was funded by the PFA and Union learn ‘Achievement through Sport’ project, which works closely with football clubs and their Foundations to assist them in promoting the learning agenda to the wider community, with Equality & Diversity always a central theme.
The ULF supports union learning projects to transform the lives of their members in developing skills, achieving qualifications and promoting lifelong learning opportunities within the workplace.
The Conference and Workshops reached over 60 female attendees. The Crystal Palace FC Foundation worked with over 3,000 women and young girls across our projects in 2014 and has already trumped that number in engagement figures for 2015. This is a vital part of the Foundation’s core philosophy that sport should be accessible to anyone with an interest and equally represented across both genders.
The structure of the day was broken down in to a morning session, which saw the attendees listen to the background stories of the day’s inspirational guest speakers with a chance to ask questions about their career pathways. Followed by a second round of inspirational speakers, Caroline McRoyal Chief Executive Officer for the Surrey County FA, Janie Frampton, a former Football League Referee and Nadia Hulston, CPFC Foundation’s Youth Solutions Officer, to illustrate how diverse the opportunities are within the sporting arena.
The afternoon session allowed the young attendees to get a better insight in to how Crystal Palace operates on a daily basis and the diverse areas of work the Foundation delivers. These were broken down in to workshops centred around coaching presented by FA skills coach Roxanne Bennett, marketing and communications, community development and enterprise and training skills.
Vicky Gomersall, Sky Sports presenter, commented: “The day was an extremely rewarding way to provide inspiration to young girls who may of easily dismissed a career in sport. The occupational avenues available within the industry are so diverse that it is not just about being physically active or being good at a sport, it is about finding a passion for something and pursuing it with drive and conviction.”
Jo Calvino, champion weightlifter, said: “This conference is testament to will of the Crystal Palace FC Foundation and the PFA to drive more women toward sport. There are many obstacles and barriers within the industry, but that should spur women on to challenge and overcome these. I would encourage all young girls to explore the vast opportunities within sport and find what motivates them to achieve success.”
The PFA / ULF Project Worker Riz Rehman said: “Equality and Diversity is a central theme for our project and it was great to see so many young Women here today. Since 2013 Women footballers in the WPL have enjoyed equal parity with their male counterparts within the PFA, so we are all for promoting inclusion in football and sport in general.”