There’s no doubt about it: the noise surrounding women’s sport is the loudest it’s ever been.
The column inches, coverage hours, viewing spectators and heroes created have all soared exponentially compared to what they were ten years ago. It’s still embryonic in comparison to their male counterparts, but it’s certainly a solid foundation to build upon.
And that is exactly what the #ShowUp campaign is aiming to do.
The brainchild of Sky Sports and the Women’s Sport Trust, the premise of #ShowUp is simple – watch a game, take a picture/video of yourself doing so and shout about it on social media.
While anyone and everyone is being encouraged to watch any event – from local club games to international fixtures – the first designated #ShowUp event is being held tomorrow (Sat 23 Jun) in Taunton as England’s cricketers take on New Zealand and South Africa in a T20 tri-series.
Both the games will be shown on Sky Sports as part of an entire day of coverage that starts at 6am and will continue until around 9pm, fronted by #ShowUp ambassador Isa Guha alongside Mel Jones and Ebony Rainford-Brent. Furthermore Olympic bronze medallist and cricket fan Goldie Sayers will also be on our screens as a roving reporter.
The 52 was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to speak to Guha ahead of the event and the former player-turned-commentator said she can’t wait.
“I’m feeling very excited and looking forward to being involved,” the two-time Ashes winner said.
“We believe it’s going to be a sell out, we’re going to have loads of former players down and it will be an incredible day of cricket for everyone I’m sure.
“We’ve got three brilliant teams involved with this series who should put on a good show for women’s sport so yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
If the cricket is anything like it was in the first round of the series – in which both New Zealand and England set record scores within hours of each other – then it will certainly be a special day for those in attendance.
It will have to go some to match last summer’s World Cup final though. Held at Lord’s in front of a sell-out crowd, England – led by Anya Shrubsole – pulled off an incredible comeback to seal a win that still elicits goosebumps even now and will continue to be referenced for the foreseeable future.
Guha was part of the team that achieved T20 World Cup glory at the same ground back in 2009 and said the reaction to the two wins could not have been more contrasting, proving just how much women’s cricket has grown in less than a decade.
She stated: “They were incredibly different. As a player you don’t really think about the crowds much but I do remember arriving on the coach and seeing a pub advertising the fact that Sri Lanka were playing Pakistan in the men’s final but there was no mention of the women.
“But fast forward to 2017 and it was marketed way better and pretty much everywhere so everyone could see. It was a spectacle in its own right.
“The game has come on leaps and bounds in terms of the coverage it’s getting and you just got the sense that everyone was pulling together – the ECB, the ICC, the country grounds. They wanted it to be the best World Cup ever and they achieved that.”
That victory last July was one in a sequence of incredible performances from women’s team sports in a run stretching back three years previously, starting with a 2014 Rugby World Cup victory for the Red Roses (as they are now known). Since then there has been a third-placed World Cup finish for the Lionesses, a breathtaking Olympic gold for GB Hockey and most recently a sensational Commonwealth victory for England Netball.
Yet despite this, there is always the fear that these successes will eventually fall to the wayside.
And that’s why the #ShowUp campaign is so important – it is trying to continue and further that momentum, giving people the opportunity to continue to be able to watch their heroes, create new ones and continue to be inspired by women’s sport.
This is something Guha wholeheartedly agrees with and is a key reason why she wants to be part of this movement.
“A winning national team is so important because ultimately you’ve got young kids watching who aspire to be the next generation.
“On the back of Rio, hockey clubs opened up so any young girls or boys could go and play hockey. And it wasn’t just girls last year who walked away from the World Cup wanting to be Anya Shrubsole either, it was boys as well and they still talk about it now.
“It is about inspiring the next generation and that is exactly what you get when you have a winning international side.
“You have so many seminal moments in sporting history over the last few years and it’s great that it’s all happening at the same time because there’s a collection of people to get involved in different sports.”
It may only have been around for a month but it’s clear to see that already the #ShowUp campaign is having an impact and let’s hope that tomorrow’s event is just a starting point.
With so much women’s sport this summer, there’s no reason you can’t #ShowUp too, whether it be attending the game itself or watching on TV. You won’t regret it.
Isa Guha is an ambassador of the #ShowUp campaign. Sky Sports and the Women’s Sport Trust are asking you to take to social media and let us know how you are going to show up, what are you attending or going to watch this summer? #ShowUp @SkySports @WomenSportTrust.
If in doubt, here are just some of the events you can #ShowUp to this summer:
23 June: Women’s IT20 Tri-series (#ShowUp Day) – Eng v Rsa, Eng v Nzl (Taunton)
28 June: Women’s IT20 Tri-series – Rsa v Nzl, Eng v Nzl (Bristol)
1 Jul: Women’s IT20 Tri-series – Final (Chelmsford)
7-13 Jul: Women’s ODI Series – Eng v Nzl (Headingley/Derby/Leicester)
7 Jul: Netball Super League Grand Final (Copper Box Arena)
21 Jul – 5 Aug: Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup (Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre)
22 Jul – 27 Aug: Kia Super League
2-5 Aug: British Open (Royal Lytham)
30 Aug: World Cup Qualifier – Scotland v Switzerland
31 Aug: World Cup Qualifier – Wales v England