Stacey Copeland has called for greater investment in women’s sport after being unveiled as a key figure in the Women’s Sport Trust’s ‘Unlocked’ campaign.
The initiative sees 40 high-profile female athletes, including Copeland and England Women’s goalkeeper Karen Bardsley among others, each partner with a leading business figure to implement a range of schemes and programmes.
While much has already been done, Copeland is acutely aware that there is even more to achieve for future generations of female athletes.
She says: “Visible role models are crucial for continued motivation, we need competition, we need equality in that, all of those things matters.
“What would be great is if broadcasters and the media could make massive commitments to continued exposure and finding those stories and covering those athletes.”
After becoming an international footballer for England, Copeland then became a European silver medalist and three-time national champion in the boxing ring and, at 36, has set her sights firmly on helping the next generation.
Having had to fight stereotypes and skepticism her whole career, Copeland is now seeing real change – particularly through her own ‘Pave The Way’ initiative to promote gender equality in sport.
She adds: “To see how far we have come in my lifetime is incredible. I am really excited about where we are going to go, there should be a lot of optimism.
“As a kid, female boxing was illegal and I had to have my hair cut short to pretend to be a boy to play in the football team.
“They said ‘why do you want to be a boy?’ and I said I didn’t, I just wanted to play football. These massive barriers just keep falling down.”
Athletes for the ‘Unlocked’ campaign have been recruited from 24 different sports with a focus on championing diversity and those who want to make a difference.
The hope is they will challenge and support each other to unlock media platforms, pitch to investors, speak out on live issues, tell new stories, get into boardrooms and break down assumptions.
Copeland adds: “We have a powerful gift to make change.
“I think sport is a great platform to use and I think whatever advances we make for women in sport transcends into sport and make things better across society.
“We must always drive for change.”