32 Wonder Women

Posted 08.03.2017

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We felt that International Women’s Day was the perfect time to celebrate inspiring women doing magnificent things to improve sport for other women.

Whilst there’s a description of some senior women who, when they break through the glass ceiling, pull the ladder up behind them… we prefer those women that take the time to help and encourage others to fulfill their potential too.

Here are 32 extraordinary women doing a brilliant job at helping and inspiring other women. We are very proud to work with them all in some way. 

National Governing Bodies
1. Sally Munday – CEO, England Hockey

Sally took over as CEO of England Hockey in 2009 and since that time has guided the NGB to extraordinary heights in terms of participation for women and girls, with the pinnacle being the GB women’s team winning Gold in Rio last summer.

2. Annamarie Phelps – Chair, British Rowing and Vice Chair, BOA

A hugely inspiring female working at the highest levels of British sport, former Olympic rower Annamarie is Chair of British Rowing, a trustee of the BPA and was recently appointed Vice Chair of the BOA.

3. Joanna Manning-Cooper – Communications Director, RFU

With previous roles as Communications and Marketing Director at England Rugby 2015 and Head of PR and Media for LOCOG, Joanna joined the RFU as director of communications in 2016 and is already having a significant impact on the profile of the women’s game.

4. Joanna Adams – CEO, England Netball

Joanna was appointed CEO of England Netball in 2015 and before that had been the NGB’s Marketing and Commercial Director. She has been the driving force behind the sport’s ongoing growth and success in recent years, turning the NGB into a well-run, innovative, commercial organisation, which puts the consumer at the heart of all it does.

5. Clare Connor – Head of England Women’s Cricket, ECB

The former England captain lead her team to the first Ashes victory in 42 years, before becoming head of the Women’s Game at the ECB. Clare is renowned for revolutionising women’s cricket – from an amateur sport played by fewer than 100 clubs when she took over in 2007, to a sport with professional contracts for players and a recently launched domestic six-team Women’s Cricket Super League.

Sporting organisations

6. Emma Boggis – CEO, Sport and Recreation Alliance

Appointed CEO of the S+RA in 2014, Emma has done much in her role to ensure better governance for sports NGBs, including more balanced boards. Emma also volunteers as a non-executive director of the British Paralympic Association.

7. Liz Dimmock – Founder, Women Ahead

In 2012, Liz cycled the entire route of the Tour de France as part of the Tour de Force for amateur cyclists. Inspired by gender inequality in the sport, she went on to set up Women Ahead to foster a global debate about the advancement of women in sport and business.

8. Tanni Grey-Thompson – Chair, ukactive

Renowned as Britain’s greatest Paralympian, Tanni has made an extraordinary contribution to sport since her retirement. Sitting on numerous boards, we’ve been particularly impressed with her impact as Chair of ukactive.

9. Jennie Price – CEO, Sport England

With almost ten years as head of Sport England, Jennie Price has been a true pioneer of sports development, presiding over the hugely successful This Girl Can campaign.

10. Holly Woodford – Chair, Active Devon

Former Development Director at England Hockey and now a sports entrepreneur harnessing technology to get children active, Holly is Chair of Active Devon, a CSP delivering superb work to get more women into sport and physical activity.

Social Enterprises and charities

11 & 12. Jo Bostock and Tammy Parlour – Co-founders and CEOs of the Women’s Sports Trust

Jo and Tammy are co-founders and joint CEOs of the highly influential Women’s Sport Trust charity which was established in 2013 to raise the visibility and increase the impact of women’s sport. WST also runs the annual #BeAGameChanger Awards to recognise individuals and organisations doing most to progress women’s sport.

13. Sally Hancock – Chair, Women in Sport

An acclaimed sponsorship strategy consultant, Sally was recently named one of the Most Influential Women in Sport. Responsible for the SSE’s landmark partnership with the Women’s FA, Sally is also Chair of the charity, Women in Sport.

14. Ruth Holdaway – CEO, Women in Sport

As the chief executive of Women in Sport charity, Ruth worked with Sport England to assist in the creation of the “This Girl Can” campaign, which seeks to break down the significant barriers that women face in sport and physical activity. Her former roles in other not-for-profit organisations include Women’s Aid, The Prostate Cancer Charity and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

15. Ali Oliver – CEO, Youth Sport Trust

As head of the Youth Sport Trust, Ali understands better than anyone the role of school sport and its potential to develop leadership skills for children. She is particularly passionate about the power of sport and physical activity to positively impact the lives of teenage girls.

The entrepreneurs

16. Danielle Sellwood – Co-founder and editor, Sportsister

A massive champion for women’s sport for many years, Danielle is currently the editor of sportsister magazine, Visual Campaign Director for the Women’s Sport Trust charity and has recently launched a touring film festival and production company showcasing brilliant films about women’s and girls’ sport and adventure. The first event takes place on March 10 in Bristol. www.finditfilm.com

17. Anabel Sexton – Founder, Boudavida

After many years working in sports marketing and supporting sports organisations, last year Anabel founded Boudavida, a women’s sports and activewear range, with 5% of every sale going directly to female grassroots sport.

18. Lara Morgan – Founder, Activbod

CEO of Activbod and a serial entrepreneur in sport and fitness, Lara’s personal support was integral to the creation of The Women’s Sport Trust charity back in 2013. She continues to work passionately to help improve the health of the nation and get more women and girls into sport.

The Media

19. Barbara Slater – Director of Sport, BBC

The most senior woman working in British sports media today, Barbara Slater is a former Great Britain gymnast and made history as the first ever female director of sport at the BBC. Just this week she announced that corporation has won the rights to broadcast the 2019 Women’s Football World Cup.

20. Sarah Shepherd

In her 10 magnificent years as Features Editor at Sport Magazine, Sarah helped to raise the profile of women’s sports and athletes, editing three editions of Sport Woman, a supplement to Sport. Her book ‘Kicking Off. How Women are Changing Sport’ was published last year.

21. Louise Minchin – Journalist, broadcaster and TV presenter

Coming late to the sport, BBC Breakfast presenter Louise is now an accomplished triathlete who qualified to represent GB as an Age Group triathlete in 2015 and 2016. She’s done much to champion and inspire other women to get active as a great role model who manages to juggle a busy working life, with family and training.

22. Sharon Fuller – Editor, BBC Sport live events service

Sharon was recently appointed to a new role as editor of BBC Sport’s live events service following her huge success as project lead for BBC Get Inspired, the BBC Sport initiative to get Britons more active. Sharon will head this new service designed to allow the BBC to cover more sport on digital platforms in partnership with NGBs (and we’re pleased to see she will continue to head BBC Get Inspired in this new role).

23. Anna Kessel – Sports journalist, founder of Women in Football

If you read one book on women’s sport this month, let it be ‘Eat Sweat Play‘ by Anna Kessel. Along with being a fabulous journalist and campaigner for equality in sport, Anna is chair and co-founder of the Women in Football organisation, which works to improve the experience and representation of women at every level of the game.

24. Shelley Alexander – BBC Editorial Lead for Women’s Sport / Co-founder of Women in Football

Shelley has been the driving force behind high quality coverage of women’s sport across the BBC and works tirelessly to provide opportunities for women in sports reporting, producing and commentating.

The Athletes

25. Maggie Alphonsi – Sports presenter

Rugby World Cup winner Maggie played in two World Cups and shared in a record-breaking seven successive Six Nations titles with England. Following her retirement in 2014, she now represents several charities with an emphasis on female participation, and became the first former female player to commentate on men’s international rugby during the Six Nations Championship last year for ITV.

26. Lizzy Yarnold – Skeleton racer

Lizzy is Olympic, World and European champion and will be defending her title at the Winter Olympics in 2018. A former heptathlete, Lizzy uses her platform as Olympic Champion to challenge “the media image of the perfect woman”.

27. Kate Richardson-Walsh – Former GB Women’s hockey captain

With the incredible career highlight of captaining Great Britain to Olympic Hockey Gold last summer, Kate Richardson-Walsh was capped a record 375 times and was England and GB Captain for 13 years. A patron of the WST, ambassador for Access Sport and representative on the Athletes’ Commission for the European Olympic Committee, Kate works tirelessly to promote female athletes and bring young people into sport.

28. Chrissie Wellington – Former World Ironman Champion

Having retired from competition in 2012, as four-time ironman world champion, triathlon legend Chrissie campaigns with great effectiveness for full equality in all aspects of sport and is currently Head of Participation for Parkrun in the UK.

29. Sarah Hunter – England Women’s Rugby Captain

Sarah was named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2016, reaching 88 caps from 11 years at top level. Only three female players have appeared more times for England. A celebrated England captain, Sarah has inspired the newly professional team through their current winning streak which bodes well for the World Cup later this year.

30. Alex Danson – England hockey player

Alex made her international debut for the England women’s hockey team in 2001 when she was just 16 and since then she has competed at two Olympic Games and was an instrumental part of the Gold Medal winning squad in Rio last year. When not training with the England squad, Alex works as an athlete mentor for the Youth Sport Trust – inspiring boys and girls to enjoy more sport.

31. Joanna Rowsell-Shand – Double Olympic Champion, Track Cycling

Reigning Olympic, European Commonwealth Games champion, Joanna was a breakout star of the velodrome commentary box in Rio and is a knowledgeable and inspiring pundit for women’s cycling, and sport in general.


32. Tracey Crouch – Sports Minister

Current Sports Minister Tracey Crouch is a huge supporter of women’s sport and women in sport. A qualified FA coach and an ex-footballer herself, she also managed a girls’ football team in her constituency. Her decision to launch a new strategy for sport is having a massive impact on sport at grassroots and elite levels.

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