I have always loved playing sport.
At primary school I played cricket and football with the boys. I still remember the day I came home from school cying because the headmaster banned me from cricket. The boys had protested, but he had said firmly that it was not ‘a game for girls’.
On hearing this my mum was so angry. She was an older mother and had grown up in a time when her father stopped her doing anything he thought ‘unwomanly’. This included, joining the wrens, getting a job in a a photography studio, wearing make up. She instilled in me that I could do anything, be anything and that gender should never get in the way of this.
The next day, she stormed into my village school and confronted my head. Mr Bean was a stern man, and pupils were scared of him. She might not have had the education he had, but I listene in awe as this 5ft, 7 stone powerhouse literally argued him into submission. The boys were happy, I got to play again.
I went on to play tennis at school, was in my University cricket team and have played 5 aside footy (in mixed teams). Sport has always been present in my life. Through it I have learned about teamwork, respect for others, drive, resilience, the joy of winning and the lessons from losing.
It’s well evidenced that Sport supports both physical and mental wellness. It’s why we were so keen to have a Taster of Sport area at our Out and Wild Wellness Festival next June. And I am delighted that Pride Sports and Lou Engelfield will be working with us on this.
The news that the Taliban have banned women from playing sport is not a surprise. But it made me cry that millions will never get the joys (and frustrations) that I have experienced.
As women, and LGBTQIA women, who face our own challenges, we need to keep fighting for inclusion. Rights are fragile.
You can find out more about Out and Wild, The Premier LGBTQIA Wellness Festival here Explore | United Kingdom (beoutandabout.co.uk)
Polly Shute, Co-Founder Out and About LGBTQ and Out and Wild.