Girl talk

That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.

History was made on Saturday afternoon, in a Liverpool suburb. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘behind-closed-doors’ nature of this year’s Grand National horserace meant the cheers and tears that greeted Rachel Blackmore’s phenomenal win on Minella Times were less numerous than they would otherwise have been. Less numerous, but no less enthusiastic.

Now I know that horse-racing isn’t a sport that everyone follows or even approves of,  – disclaimer alert: I love it – but nevertheless, I think Blackmore’s pitch-perfect ride to become the first woman ever to ride the winner of the Grand National deserves talking about. Bear with me, gentle readers, this will eventually link to the day-job.

Women’s sport is in a pretty good place at the moment; the footballers have had better days, of course, but for their individual clubs, players like Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton and Jill Scott are blazing trails across the pitches, the England Women cricketers are doing themselves proud and the Red Roses are storming ahead in the Women’s Six Nations. In darts (yes, it does count as a sport) players like Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sharrock are showing how it should be done.  In the sitting-down sports that Team GB excels at, cyclist Laura Trott and rower Helen Glover are setting themselves up to add some Tokyo gold to their medal hauls from London and Rio; Dina Asher-Smith and Laura Muir are a joy to behold as they fly round the running track.

At grass roots level, too, increasing numbers of girls are taking up sports and, crucially, sticking with those sports because they have more role models to emulate. Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing sports; you’d be surprised who turns out on a Sunday morning to ruck and rip, maul and tackle.

Merchanting is a part of the construction industry and, to the wider world, is seen as a male-dominated industry.  However, and I’ve written about this before, this sector is in fact one of the most diverse and inclusive. I think we’re the better for it.  With women accounting for around 15% of the entire construction industry workforce, Travis Perkins’ group’s 26% is definitely heading in the right direction. As is the fact that they have halved their gender pay gap according to our story. Plenty of other merchants, from independents like the Rose Group to multi-branch businesses like MKM and Bradfords, are quietly getting on with employing the best people for the job – regardless of their gender. That’s before we even look at the supplier side of the business, too. If you can sell the right product, at the right price, with the right level of service to your customer and by doing so make that customer’s life easier and your business some decent margins, does it really matter if you are Dennis or Doris?

Finally, many of you know I love a bit of a flutter. Did I have a bet on Blackmore? Hell, yes, and the winnings are ring-fenced for my first post-lockdown pub visit.

girls sport

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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