8th March 2021
This year, the theme for International Women's Day is #ChoosetoChallenge and at England Handball we wanted to use it as opportunity to showcase some of the inspirational women that continue to push boundaries for our sport and challenge us to keep improving.
Equality and diversity are important in every aspect of life and we work hard to make sure this is reflected throughout our sport. Handball is a game that attracts a wonderful mix of female and male players of all ages, but also an international demographic with players from more than 70 different countries enjoying the game in England, making handball one of the most diverse sports in the country.
Although we recognise we can always do more, we're proud of our track record in encouraging diversity and championing opportunities for women through our organisation and through the sport more widely.
Some of the key stats show that:
Although these are figures we are proud of, we will never rest on our laurels. Equality, in the truest sense of the word would see these numbers rise to 50 per cent, so we must continue to strive to go even further.
We are also aware that there are areas of our sport where we could do better. As an organisation we are always challenging ourselves to improve equality to reduce, and eventually eradicate, bias. That's where this year's #ChoosetoChallenge theme really does apply to everything we want to achieve.
What we do know is that we are going in the right direction and with continued positive work, we can reach those 50-50 targets. Our members, clubs and partners all have an important role to play in that. #IWD2021
To showcase some of the stars of handball in England, we wanted to use International Women's Day as a chance to highlight six women that are flag bearers for our great game. We'll be promoting them across social media throughout the day so please help us champion them and their efforts by sharing our content through your own channels where you can, using the hashtags #IWD2021 and #ChooseToChallenge.
Andrea King - handball player at Newcastle Vikings
'I am challenging inequality by promoting handball as a brilliantly inclusive team sport for everyone.'
Andrea is the goalkeeper for the Newcastle Vikings women’s team – who play in the North Regional League. She also looks after the media side of the club, including website updates, Vikings’ social media, and their press releases.
Athalia Ibanga – handball player for NEM Hawks
“I am challenging inequality by showing there is space for women from diverse backgrounds in handball.”
Having started her handball career at Olympia Cannock's U14, Athalia Ibanga is now a key player for NEM Hawks senior team as well as a regular selection for the Great Britain women's squad.
Amy Hardwick - handball coach
"I am challenging inequality by encouraging the next generation of female athletes & coaches in handball."
Amy is Head Coach at Peninsula Handball club, and Assistant Coach to the GB Women Under-19s. On top of this Amy, who was named 2018 England Handball Young Coach of the Year, is an England Handball North West Development Coach.
Tracy Watkinson - Chair of England Handball
"I choose to challenge by ensuring women have a seat at the table and are heard."
Tracy was elected Chair of England Handball in 2017, and is a Director of British Handball. In her professional life Tracy is Chief Operating Officer; Finance, at NatWest Group and also won the Women in Banking & Finance - Champion for Women award in 2018.
Akira Adeniran-Lowe – handball player on the EHA Talent Pathway
“I’m challenging inequality by paving the way for young women like me”
Akira is a former West London Eagles goalkeeper who is currently in Denmark as part of her journey on the England Handball Association (EHA) Talent Pathway. Akira is also part of the GB Team set up.
Stacey Andrews - National Partnership Manager - Development & Workforce Development
"I’m challenging bias by being open and fair in everything I do and embracing difference of opinions."
Stacey is the National Partnerships Manager at England Handball. She has worked in sports development for 17 years, with posts at Ashton Park Sports College, Bristol City Council, and Sport England, before joining England Handball in 2014.