Commonwealth Games, What Legacy?

Photo credit: Universalis

After the Commonwealth Games success of the home nations including a dramatic win for England’s netball team again Australia and Women’s Rugby Sevens featuring in the games for the first time you would think that there would be a significant legacy to be taken home from the Gold Coast; however, there still appears to be a lack of investment in Women’s Sport. England’s netball team came to a dramatic victory over Australia, claiming the first victory of the Commonwealth Games, however, it has since come to light that the team are facing the loss of their professional contract beyond August 2019. As part of the funding Sport England, an organisation to support grass roots sport contributes three million as part of the 16.9 million England Netball receives. This funding supports the team until the World Cup in Liverpool next year, and from then on the sport must bring in revenue itself no matter how successful the team may be. This would mean that the current team and the sport as a whole would lose it professional abilities and thus the girls would be having to work full time jobs, training less but still trying to compete with other countries that are fully professional.

Netball could not be funded by UK Sport as it is not an Olympic or a Paralympic sport and Sport England’s funding would be concentrated on grass roots level of the sport. The Chief Executive of the governing body, Joanna Adams, had said “people are not ploughing money into women’s sport. Everybody says they are- and there are a few brave brands- but realistically people are talking a good game but not parting with money.” When we consider participation in netball it is the fourth biggest team sport in the country and is the biggest team sport for women. A Sport England spokesman said they with continue funding to “help women of all ages get back into the sport” going on to say, “Sport England’s remit is to help ordinary people get active, and England Netball had always understood this means that we will no longer be able to invest in high-performance sport. We have been supporting England Netball to develop an ambitious commercial programme so they are not reliant on public money.” With a stunning victory at the Commonwealth Games, this has certainly come as a shock to those who were engrossed in England’s Netball games and indeed the Netball competition as a whole, but it calls into question the support women in sport really have.

Last year the England XV Women’s Rugby team lost their professional contracts in favour of a sevens programme, while the RFU are able to fund both a Men’s XV team and a sevens team. The claim from this was that the women’s game was cyclical, however, it is no more cyclical than the men’s system of sevens and XV’s. With women’s sport appearing to be on the up, many would think that the Commonwealth Games would be a perfect opportunity to grow women’s sport, to increase participation and show the world that there is plenty of amazing sports moments in women’s sport too. However, it appears there is going to be little legacy left from the Commonwealth Games in the home nations, with Women’s sport continuing to struggle across the board. Surely it is about time investment in the women’s game match that of the men’s.

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