Sport is an important constituent of our life. But it was not always equally open for men and women. It is with time than females got the right to participate in Olympic Games and other sport competitions. In Great Britain, people have always been keen on sports. There are several kinds of sport that were invented by the British, such as football, polo, golf, cricket, snooker and others. The British women made a big contribution to world’s history of sport. There are a lot of outstanding female athletes, whose motherland is the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and who made everything for the world to see that women are great when it comes to the sports.
It is human nature to play and to compete. Sport is a unique occurrence of our life. It is attractive and gives people enormous opportunities to show their moral and physical strength.
The history of sports is as old as humankind. From the ancient times, people of all races and denominations have been diverted themselves in a more or less organized manner. The early history of sports often involved the preparation and training for war or hunting. Therefore, there were sports games that involved the throwing of spears, stakes, rocks, and also lots of play-fighting. Ancient Greece introduced formal sports with the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Those first Olympic Games included sports such as human and chariot races, wrestling, jumping, disk and javelin throwing and more.
In Ancient Greece women were not allowed to participate and even watch these competitions, but a lot has been changed since then. Women were striving to be allowed to go in for sports, and this aspiration scored big success. Before, they have been facing many barriers to participating in sport, which prevented them from reaping many benefits that can be gained from playing sports and engaging in physical activity. The situation changed for the better with the creation of Women’s Sport Foundation in 1974, which aim was to promote interests of all women, so that they can get equal opportunities with men. Many communities, clubs and groups were created to encourage women to do sports. In their work “The Contribution of Sports to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”¯, Allison Huggins and Shirley Randel affirm: “By creating opportunities for women and girls to engage in sport, communities and societies empower women and girls on an individual level, by promoting self-confidence, leadership, teamwork skills and a sense of achievement”¯. (Huggins, RandellŠ± 2007) Now, women can challenge stereotypes and show the world what they are really capable of. The number of people doing sports is growing constantly, and women not only participate in traditionally feminine kinds of sport, but master more and more new sport disciplines. They achieve the highest results and working up rapidly to the absolute records set up by men.
In some countries, passion for sport became a tradition. In the United Kingdom, people are proud to be inventors of the most adored game in the world ”“ football. They also play tennis, cricket, rugby; they do cycle racing and auto racing, yachting and much more. The British consider these to be their national heritage.
The British women made a big contribution to the world’s history of sport. One of the women’s favorite games, netball, began in England in 1890s. The International Federation of Netball and Women’s Basketball (later renamed to the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA)) was established. And though the organization is open to men and there are some male umpires and coaches, netball remains a largely female-defined sport played by women and governed by women (Hartmann-Tews I., Pfister G., 2003).
Hockey is one of the games the British love. There are around 2000 hockey clubs with more than 30,000 players. But besides that, there are a lot of women’s hockey teams. In 1895, The All England Women’s Hockey Association was formed, with around 900 clubs and 2200 schools being a part of it.
One of the most famous female hockey players is Karen Brown. Karen was born in 1963 in England. She started as a field hockey defender, and then became a member of the British squad that won the bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Karen retired in 1999, having played for England on 179 occasions. This sportswoman is the world’s most capped player.
Another example of a world famous British female athlete is Jessica Ennis. Jessica is a track and field athlete specializing in multi-eventing disciplines and 100m hurdles. At the age of 11 she joined the City of Sheffield Athletic Club. In only three years, she managed to win Sheffield Federation for School Sports Whitham Award at the high jump competition. Jessica Ennis is a current European and former World heptathlon championand is the former world indoor pentathlon champion (Jessica Ennis).
The special attention deserve those sportswomen, who make their dreams come true, regardless of all twists of fate they face in their life. Such an example of a person is Stephanie Millward. Stephanie has always had a passion for swimming and broke the British record for the 100m Backstroke when she was 15 years old (Stephanie Millward). Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 17. After taking time out from the sport, Millward returned to the pool in 2008 and competed at the Beijing Paralympics. Most recently, she set a European record and won the gold medal in the 400m Freestyle at the 2011 IPC European Championships in Berlin, Germany (Stephanie Millward).
Traditional sport is, without doubt, very male-orientated. But with each woman who excels in sport, barriers are broken, and a new generation of girls is able to benefit from participation in sports in a way that their mothers and grandmothers could not. British women made an important contribution to the history of sport. They made the world forget about the gender difference and simply admire their strength, will to win and beauty.