England Hockey chief executive Nick Pink said the country is “on the crest of a really exciting wave for women in sport” as the women’s team have an opportunity to lift Commonwealth gold on Sunday.
England will take on Australia in the final of the Birmingham 2022 Games for a chance to continue the success of Britain’s elite athletes – a momentum Pink believes has been “building for a number of years”.
But the Lionesses’ Euro triumph has prompted “significant changes” in perceptions of women’s sport, helped by the number of women active behind the scenes, the 45-year-old added.
“I don’t think it was just the last week with the Lionesses, I think it’s built up for a few years,” Pink told the PA news agency.
“There is so much to celebrate about women’s sport in general and more and more women are getting involved at all levels of government in all organisations.
“And that is starting to have an impact on success on the pitch too.
“We’re at the peak of a really exciting wave for women in sports.”
Pink said the UK’s ability to host successful events is partly responsible for the increasing celebration of women’s sport and is also crucial to encouraging young people to take part.
“We host them incredibly well. We also host them in different parts of the country to give young girls and boys better access,” he said.
“I think sport and governing bodies that offer a lot of sport programs through their network of clubs and volunteers are now much more focused on making sure their programs are inclusive and not exclusive.
“I think as a nation, our infrastructure wants to see that change and our volunteer network wants to see that change.”
Pink explained the importance of diversifying the sport through grassroots initiatives, many of which are supported by National Lottery funds.
“We recently started a partnership with the Muslim Sports Foundation, which has enabled us to work with Muslim girls for the first time,” he said.
“There is a demand there and an opportunity, if positioned well, to ensure that the sport becomes more sustainable in different parts of the country.”
Pink added that he caught winning the Lionesses’ Euros with his nine-year-old son last week.
“It was amazing, it was so inspiring,” he said.
“And the first thing[my son]said to me was, ‘Why aren’t we there? Why don’t we watch it live?’
“It showed in two, three weeks of this competition what they’ve done to change the perception of women’s sport – not just for my son, but for the nation… I think they’ve really made some significant changes.
“I think women’s football will have tremendous success in the future.”
England meet Australia in the women’s ice hockey final on Sunday.
Pink said England’s ice hockey players, both men and women, are a “true inspiration”.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/england-hockey-commonwealth-australia-england-hockey-b2139983.html We are at the pinnacle of an exciting surge in women’s sport, says England Hockey CEO