8th March 2022
Celebrating International Women's Day 2022, Course Leader for Level 2 and Level 3 Fitness, Becky Whiston chats to us about her love of sport and why she chose to pursue a career in teaching.
Q. How was school for you?
A. I did well at school but never enjoyed being sat in a classroom, I always wanted to be doing something more practical.
Q. How old were you when you first got into playing squash and netball?
A. I was probably around 7 years old when I started playing squash. I grew up going and watching my Dad play so as soon as I was old enough I was desperate to be able to have a go! I started playing netball when I moved up to secondary school. Once I was 14 I was able to join a local netball team and league.
Q. What sports did you enjoy playing at school?
A. I enjoyed all sports, I joined most of the lunchtime and afterschool clubs and represented the school in a variety of sports including netball, hockey and athletics.
Q.Who was your childhood role model?
A. My dad was one of my main role models when it came to sports. He has always been massively into sports playing football, squash, karate so I used to follow him everywhere to watch him.
Q. Can you tell us all about your sporting career and any particular highlights for you? How did these wins make you feel?
A. I feel like there are lots of small highlights throughout my lifetime that have made me proud and that made me realise that hard work does pay off. When I first starting playing squash I didn’t really meet many other females to begin with and tended to find when we played team matches as a young girl I tended to be playing adult males with a lot more experience and I lost quite a few games to start with! However with training and perseverance and A LOT of motivation from my dad those losses started to turn into wins and I eventually started playing for Staffordshire girls for a little while and then was asked to play for a local women’s team as well as in a local league where I tended to be ranked quite high.
In netball, winning ‘player of the season’ a number of times was a particular highlight for me especially with so many other talented women to choose from and I still have all my trophies displayed which I am super proud of. Also playing in the DANA league with a group of women who I had played with since I was 16 was a highlight, we were a strong well drilled team who had a lot of success and fun!
Q. Why did you decide to into teaching?
A. I always knew I wanted to work in sports and teaching seemed a natural fit for me.
Q. How has women’s sport changed from when you were starting and competing?
A. Massively! Both sports I play especially netball gets a lot more coverage than it ever used to and the Monday night league is now shown on sky sports. Success in competitions such as the Commonwealth games has definitely helped to give netball a better platform however there is still a way to go. Squash remains dominated by males but there are more and more opportunities for women and hopefully by the time my own little girl is old enough to start to train and compete women’s sports will have continued to flourish and grow.
Q. This year’s IWD theme is #BreaktheBias. What would you say are the biggest challenges for women in sport today and why is it so important to highlight them during International Women’s Day to improve equality in sport?
A. There is still a lot of discrimination and bias in sports especially those that have been dominated by males. Even down to the recent headlines of women pushing back at the clothing they are expected to wear to play a particular sport shows there is still a way to go - The Norwegian Beach Handball team were fined at the European Championships for choosing to wear shorts rather than bikini bottoms. A female should not be disadvantaged because she is a female, more needs to be done to challenge stereotypes and behaviour that makes a girl feel like she can’t do something.
Q. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A. It should be a celebration of the achievements that women before us have made and continue to make to ensure more equality and less discrimination for our future generation to come. We need to continue to break down barriers and ensure our children have the best equal opportunities.
Q. Finally, what advice would you give to young women starting out in their careers?
A. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t. Believe in yourself, stay strong and if you get knocked back, get straight back up and go again!