Almost 200 delegates packed themselves into Titanic Belfast on Friday 3rd November to attend the Female Sports Forum Building Momentum Conference which was a roaring success. There was a great atmosphere throughout the day when Female Sports Forum Chairperson outlined some of the highlights of what has been a great year for female sport and recreation. Keynote speakers included Louise Martin CBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, the outstanding motorcycle racer Maria Costello MBE and Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis OBE.
Each keynote addressed different perspectives on their struggles and successes in sport. Louise discussed the difficulties of being a female in male dominated board rooms and the effort taken to become a top level sports administrator. In an effort to fight gender equality Louise asked that colleagues “don’t judge me on what you see, judge me on what I do”. Louise certainly showed what she could do as she became Chair of Sports Scotland in 2008 and President of the CGF in 2015 and played a key role as Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Maria Costello had a love of motorcycle racing from a young age which has brought significant success in her career but also fought injury on many occasions but despite 24 broken bones along the way, Maria became the first woman to stand on a podium in a men’s TT race and secured the fastest ever TT lap by a woman. Maria outlined the importance of persistence through difficult times but closed by saying “choose a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
It would have been safe to say that the final keynote speaker was going to go down a treat with excitement building as the 200 delegates waited for Olympic Heptathlon gold medal winner from Sydney in 2000 Denise Lewis to address the conference. Denise impressed the importance of role models in sport and how they impacted her as a children and motivated her to become an Olympic athlete from an early age. Denise spoke about how athletes can learn despite not always succeeding as she said “Don’t fear failure, embrace it, build resilience and keep going!”
At the end of the Conference, Angela Platt challenged attendees to continue the progress to increase the visibility of female sport after a superb summer of coverage and attendances at competitions such as the Women’s Rugby World Cup finals in Belfast, the UEFA U19- European Championships and the fantastic attendance of over 46,000 at the All-Ireland Ladies Gaelic Finals in Croke Park.
Angela thanked the Department for Communities and Sport NI for their support for the Female Sports Forum and the Active, Fit and Sporty project with significant investment provided to a wide range of partner organisations over the past 18 months many of them who contributed to a strong programme of workshops which complemented the keynote speakers.
Pictured at the Female Sports Forum Building Momentum Conference at Titanic Belfast; Fergus Devitt (Department for Communities), Conference MC Denise Watson, Maria Costello MBE, Denise Lewis OBE, Louise Martin CBE, Female Sports Forum Chairperson Angela Platt and Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown