Sportswomen of the Year 2011: The Great Britain women’s sitting volleyball team

// 19 December 2011

This guest blog is by Emma Wiggs, the team captain. She is part of the GB Women’s Sitting Volleyball team who are currently working towards gaining a slot at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. If you would like to support Emma on her journey to London 2012 or find out more about Sitting Volleyball, please visit www.volleyballengland.org

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12 women from different backgrounds who show determination, passion and commitment. 12 women with diverse sporting experiences and a varying array of working, not working or even missing limbs; all sharing one dream.

As a PE teacher and proud captain of our GB team, I’m a firm advocate for both women’s participation in sport and the unique and powerful entity that is sport.

Our team started in November 2009 and since then has been forging ahead, finding new talent through BPA Talent ID days and training hard to develop into an internationally competitive team. The squad train on a daily basis in the gym or in technical sessions.

2011 has seen some players become full-time athletes based at Roehampton 24/7 and the team train every weekend and every Monday altogether.

For most of us it is a constant battle to balance the demands of a job, training, driving hundreds of miles each week and a family life with the hunger to seize the opportunity to perform in the biggest sporting show in the universe. As you can imagine it’s not an easy task. I had to give my dog away, I tend to live in my car and I can’t remember the last time I went to a family do…but would I change it? No way!

Prior to acquiring my disability 12 years ago, I was a competitive all-rounder in just about any sport I could find. Finding myself in a male dominated sporting world I would constantly strive against the stereotypical jibes: “Bet she throws like a girl!” or “Girls can’t play rugby!”

Then my life changed and after some years of rehabilitation I have again found myself back in the world of competitive sport still laughing off the same old comments about women in sport. Nevertheless, the world of sport is slowly changing into one where female athletes are more recognised and often out-perform their male counterparts; you only have to look at England’s rugby union teams to see the evidence.

Disappointingly, the recent controversy over the lack of female representation in the SPOTY nominations does nothing to help us fight the doubters. I firmly believe that sport can move mountains, sport can change lives and, as Helen Jenkins and Chrissie Wellington have shown us, females in sport are showing the way! Their success should be recognised and celebrated but we should be asking the SPOTY board, “Are these really the best contenders?” rather than the expected cry of “Where are all the female athletes?”

In an age where women’s rights are campaigned for ever more strongly, as an international sporting female I do not want a place on the list just because I have boobs, or I am disabled, or to tick the box for political correctness: I want to be on that list because I have performed at an elite level against the best in the world and come out on top.

The GB Sitting Volleyball Women shall be leading this campaign from the front with fervour: we shall be turning heads with our performances and we shall be living the dream!

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