Highfields students star in film celebrating women in sport

Students from Highfields School in Matlock, part of the Rural Derbyshire School Sports Partnership, feature in a brand new online film to highlight the range of sporting careers available to women and girls and to drive out sexism in sport.

Pupils got the chance to interview high-profile female role models in the sports industry at an event in London last year and a short film about their day was showcased at a special Careers in Sport evening at Highfields in November, held in conjunction with Women in Sport (formerly known as the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation).

The footage, which included students interviewing TV presenter Charlie Webster and women with roles in organisations including UK Sport and Virgin Active, has been merged with a video record of the evening to create a YouTube film of their work alongside Women in Sport.

Grace Pickford, 15, who was involved in the project, said: “The best bit was going to London to interview so many women with different roles in the sport industry.

“We got to find out about their careers and how they got there. We want to thank Ms Allen (RDSSP School Sport Coordinator) for the opportunities. We wouldn’t have been able to do it if she hadn’t backed us. Getting involved has been the best thing we’ve done.”

Fellow students Emily Hancock and Mimi Evans, both 15, and 16-year-old Niamh Robertson said: “Being involved with the RDSSP has opened so many doors for us, it’s been mind-blowing.

“It’s helped us to develop skills in teaching and become more confident. We’ve made new friends and it’s given us amazing opportunities like this one.”

The launch of the film follows the inaugural Women’s Sport Conference at Lord’s cricket ground last year, aimed at improving the gender balance in sport, which the girls also attended.

They had the chance to meet and interview a number of high-profile women figures in the sporting world including sports minister Helen Grant, TV presenters Clare Balding and Jane Dougall, Olympic athlete Gail Emms MBE, captain of the British Fed Cup team, Judy Murray, chief executive of England Rugby 2015 Debbie Jevans, CEO of The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation Ruth Holdaway, sportswear designer Lily Rice and four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion Chrissie Wellington.

Highfields PE Teacher and RDSSP School Sport Coordinator Jayne Allen said: “The film launch has given the girls excitement.

“They’ve grown so much in confidence as role models throughout this project. I hope they’ll go back into their year groups and be able to share their passion and interest for Women in Sport with others.

“Certainly from my point of view it’s food for thought on how we can transmit that enthusiasm to the rest of the school.”

Strategic lead for sport and fundraising at Women in Sport, Radha Balani, said: “We want to make women realise there’s a place in the sports industry for them and they have every right to it, in the same way as men do.

“It’s a worthwhile and rewarding career and even if they don’t want a career in sport, being active, healthy and taking part makes such a different to your life generally - physically, emotionally, socially and mentally.

“So whether you work in sport or not, if you enjoy it, there is never a reason to stop doing it, and being a woman is not a reason to not be playing sport.”

Headteacher at Highfields, Eddie Wilkes, added: “This work is the tip of a huge iceberg.

“For the youngsters who’ve produced the brilliant film and spoken to all these amazing people, it’s been the culmination of years of work with the RDSSP.

“They’ve learnt skills from this experience that don’t just apply to sport, but to life in general.

“They can think about how this has challenged them, how they’ve been inspired, how they actually deal with situations where they’re not successful, and building on resilience that they’ll need in life as well.”

The 38-minute video is available above - skip to 5.50 to see the Highfields girls in action.