Synergy Spotlight

1. Your career in one paragraph?

I have coached since I was 16 in Australia. After retiring I wanted to give back to the sport that gave me such amazing opportunities so I got involved with the GB U19 Programme in 2012. In 2013 I took over as Head Coach and in 2016 moved to the Women's team. This year I will lead both programmes.

2. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Committed, innovative and involving

3. What is the key to your success?

Having a great team around me who compliment my strengths and support my weaknesses. Together we are creating a positive culture that we believe to be successful.

4. Who inspired you?

My mum; a ball of endless energy and still playing softball every week at 67 years of age.

5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

'Pick your battles to win the war'

6. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Spend less time worrying about what other people think of you as you will never make everyone happy.

Inspiring the next generation

We believe Women’s Sport Week is more than just important.  It raises awareness of a key, rapidly growing, section of our industry.  It allows us to talk and debate key issues and helps make heroes of the athletes who train week in, week out and astound us with world class performances. 
 
We talk a lot about getting more women into the industry, more in leadership roles, more making a difference to the way our industry is run but change like this needs a longer term strategy.  It’s why, as a part of our 1+51 commitment, we want to inspire the next generation of young women – raising awareness of jobs which they may not even know exist. 

As a first step, we’ll be going back to school to talk about what we do and the amazing career opportunities plus the perks that only come with a job in sport.  Watch this space for our first back to school session.

Synergy Launch “The Pledge”

We're offering three governing bodies the chance to receive £25,000 worth of creative time to promote their women’s game. 2017 sees a jam-packed year of women’s sport, with highlights such as the rugby and cricket World Cups, and the UEFA European Championships. As a progressive agency proud to work with some of the world’s most ambitious businesses, Women’s Sport Week 2017 is the perfect time to launch and celebrate the initiative.

If you are a governing body then you are in with a chance to win. All you have to do is fill out the entry form: http://bit.ly/WSWThePledge and tell Synergy about a Women’s Sport brief you need help with – from helping to get that new potential sponsor over the line, to encouraging an existing partner to renew or even creating a brand campaign to help raise awareness and grow your fan base. The prize includes a kick-off briefing session to agree objectives, three weeks of creative development time and an ideas presentation at Synergy HQ where we’ll pitch to you. Terms and Conditions apply.

1+51: A year-long commitment to women’s sport

Women’s Sport Week is all about raising awareness and increasing the profile of women’s sport. At Synergy we’re all in! From the record-breaking audiences for GB Women’s Hockey gold medal match to 35,000 fans at Wembley for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final – both domestically and internationally women’s sport is unquestionably growing, but there is always more we can ALL do.At Synergy we are devoting resources to showcasing the best of women’s sport throughout the year. To kick off Women’s Sport Week 2017, we’re proud to launch 1+51: our commitment to women’s sport this week, and every week of the year.

And here’s how we plan to make this happen:

1. The Pledge – It’s Competition Time
We’ll be offering three governing bodies, committed to growing women’s sport, the chance to win up to £25,000 of Synergy creative development time. Entries are open from Tuesday 20th June until Friday 7th July. You can enter here.

2. Back to School: Synergy Women Inspire the Next Generation

We’re inspiring the next generation of young women – raising awareness of jobs which they may not even know exist. As a first step, we’ll be going back to school to talk about what we do and the amazing career opportunities plus the perks that only come with a job in sport.

3. Spotlight: Raising the Profile of Women in Sport

We want to shout about the amazing women making such an impact in sport. So, each month we’ll profile a new inspirational woman…keep an eye on our website and social channels.

4. Feature: Day in the Life of the GB Softball Team

On Friday 23rd June, we’ll post our first live Instagram story live from the Women’s Softball European Championships in Italy. GB Softball player and Synergist, Chiya Louie, will be behind the scenes with the team in camp where the team will be aiming for qualification to the 2020 Olympic Games. Exciting stuff, we can’t wait.

5. Sports Kit Friday

We’ll be getting our kit on and raising funds for Women in Sport and our very own GB Athlete, Chiya Louie.

It’s going to be a jam-packed week, so watch this space for more detail on each of our five initiatives.

21st Century Girls

During Engine’s 21st Century Woman event yesterday, surrounded by a collection of clients and colleagues, listening to a captivating panel of women including Stella Creasy MP and Kate Dale of #ThisGirlCan fame, I found myself reminiscing about bedtime stories with my 4-year-old daughter from the previous evening. No, it wasn’t being on the 6th floor of Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road that got me thinking. I was still very much tuned into the discussion on how women are depicted in marketing and popular culture. But my conscience had been pricked by the realisation that I was part of the problem under the spotlight – in the same way that panellist Harriet Hall (Features Editor of Stylist.co.uk) had caught herself asking ‘What’s her name?’ when a friend said she had found a new cleaner. Do the seemingly innocuous bedtime stories I have been reading to my daughters propagate the very same outdated gender stereotypes that were being laid waste by the panel?

So last night, on the eve of International Women’s Day, I decided to check the bookshelves at home. And there it was: gender stereotyping writ large in oversized text and pretty illustrations of domesticated women and hard-working men. Mums doing household chores. Dads fixing things. A preponderance of male central characters. Even the anthropomorphised animal characters were overwhelmingly male and heroic. It was more proof, as if any were needed, of the antiquated way gender roles are depicted in popular culture.Engine’s 21st Century Woman study had a very particular take on who shares blame and who has the responsibility to improve the situation: the marketing community. The research, compiled over 12 months, with input from 1,000 UK women, had some pretty damning evidence of how brands are failing to accurately portray women through marketing. 76% of women think that brands are not representing them properly, and 40% of women cite advertising and the way brands talk to them as one of the most likely reasons to be self-critical.The research also showed that 86% of women enjoy being a woman (yes, that means 14% don’t) but 45% find it difficult, primarily as a result of institutionalised sexism. Marketing at large is not just failing to address the issue of ‘damaging and dangerous gender stereotyping’ (Harriet Hall), but helping embed it in society. According to Stella Creasy, ‘advertisers are the front line of a cultural war’, and most of them seem to be on the wrong side.

Day job aside, as a father of two 21st Century girls, this is all pretty troubling. Until yesterday, I thought my parental efforts against gender stereotyping had been relatively robust. My wife and I chose a neutral colour for the nursery. My daughters are subjected to a fair amount of ‘male’ sports such as cricket and rugby on TV. The All Blacks are their favourite team (it’s more about the "pre-match dancing" than backing the winning team), and if New Zealand are not playing, the 4-year-old will support whoever is wearing blue. I’ve instituted regular ‘cooking lessons with daddy’, which, I tell myself is to make sure they don’t develop gender associations with domestic roles (although if my wife reads this she’ll probably question why that doesn’t apply to the laundry). And I made sure the girls' first trip to a major sporting event was to see professional über-talented women play, at The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley. I’m not expecting the 1-year-old to have identified any female role models, but it is a memory that will be established in the re-telling.

Granted, the nursery paint colour might ever so slightly be influenced by not knowing what sex our firstborn would be, and there is heavy personal agenda in all the above. I love watching sport. After all, it is part of my job (no, my wife doesn’t buy that line either). In a parallel life I would quite like to have been a chef. But if those personal biases give my daughters a less gendered upbringing and avoid fostering unconscious biases in their little brains, I’m comfortable with the egoism at play.

I’m hoping it will all add up to sense that they can do anything with their lives, without pre-conceived, gender-defined paths. At the moment the 4-year-old self-identifies as a Ninja Turtle and wants to be Leonardo (blue bandana) when she grows up, although I’m wondering if it’s a phase (and now wondering why there aren’t any female ninja turtles...I’m sure the Renaissance had some pretty awesome female role models). She likes tennis, ballet (mixed class), dinosaurs, baking, rugby tackling and anything blue (did I mention that already?), so I'm hoping we've avoided too many gender stereotyping clangers.

The panel discussion highlighted so many areas where I can do more in my day-to-day interactions at home. Bedtime stories is one of them. But if I learnt one thing yesterday above all else, it is that my efforts to avoid gender stereotyping in my daughters' upbringing doesn’t stop when I leave the house for work. It is about making sure any clients or brands I work with reject stereotyping through their marketing and advertising, so the depictions my daughters see challenge the status quo. There was so much sense spoken yesterday, but maybe the panel was wrong about one thing – social media isn’t the front line of female oppression. It’s bedtime stories.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

On March 7th, as I sat in the audience of Engine's 21st Century Woman event, I couldn’t help but feel the momentum behind the profile and awareness of women’s sport. We are moving in the right direction. The world is slowly waking up to an equal playing field and diverse boardrooms equating to a stronger economy and future. We already know the social and physical benefits of sport, and new research from Women in Sport and Investec goes further to highlight the benefits this gives women in their personal and professional endeavors. In its entirety, the progress of Women’s Sport is positive. Yet there is still this underlying attitude that likes to rear its ugly head: we seem to take two steps forward, and one step back.

October 2015 | Chelsea Ladies Leading the Way.
For the second season running the Women’s Super League went down to the final game, with Chelsea Ladies clinching their first ever title. The win also landed Chelsea their second trophy of the season after their victory over Notts County in The 2015 SSE Women’s FA Cup Final. This success would have been unlikely had the women’s team’s future been left in the hands of the club’s board. It was the then Chelsea F.C. and England captain, John Terry, who came to the rescue when their budgets were cut in 2009.

November 2015| Slow Progess for NGOs
Change needs to start at the top. Having a greater number of women in decision-making roles will benefit sport at every level. The annual ‘Trophy Women’ Report, published by Women in Sport, highlighted that almost half of sporting organisations boards failed to meet the 25% gender balance guideline, while 16% were found to have no women at executive level at all.

December 2015 | Women’s Participation Rising Faster than Men’s
Good news: the gender gap is closing at a grassroots level. Sport England released its latest findings from its Active People Survey. The number of people regularly playing sport rose by 1.65 million between 2005 and 2015, with the rise driven by an increase in the number of women playing sport. 7.01 million females aged 16 years or over (31.2%) played sport once a week, with running the fastest growing sport for women.

January 2016 | Gayle’s Conduct Falls Short
Gender equality is not recognised by all. West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle rightly drew sharp criticism for his comments after asking out reporter Mel McLaughlin live on air. He was subsequently fined £4,900 for his remarks.

February 2016 | NFL Believes in Diversity
Across the pond, the NFL continued with its efforts to encourage female involvement in the sport. February 2016 saw the introduction of a “Rooney Rule” for women, requiring teams to interview female candidates for “executive positions”.

March 2016 | Indian Wells CEO Sparks Outrage
Another day, another example of a high-profile gender howler. Indian Wells CEO, Raymond Moore’s comments that the women’s tour “rides on the coat-tails” of the men’s game received widespread backlash, resulting in his resignation. This reignited the debate of women’s pay in tennis – despite the sport remunerating men and women equally across the four Grand Slams.

April 2016 | Netball Goes Full Time
England Netball announced that players would go full-time from June 2016, with 14 players initially selected to join the summer training camp. The move is part of England Netball’s mission to reach the 2019 World Cup.

May 2016 | Record SSE Women’s FA Cup Crowd
For the second season running, The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final was held in front of a record crowd. Nearly 33,000 people were in Wembley Stadium, with millions more at watching from home as Arsenal defeated current holders Chelsea to claim their 14th title.

June 2016 | Synergy: This Girl Does
Synergy’s event with Jacqui Oatley MBE, Tanya Joseph, Colin Banks, Ruth Holdaway and Carly Telford provided thought-provoking discussion. Brands left with a clear positive message on the commercial and social value to be gained from women’s sport partnerships. See here for our seven top takeaways from the day.

July 2016 | Royal Troon Enters a New Age
After Muirfield voted not to admit women members in May, Royal Troon showed the golfing world the way forward as their members “overwhelmingly” voted to allow women to join.

August 2016 | RFU Tackles Sexism
The RFU announced they are to award 48 new contracts, including 16 full-time deals, to members of the senior women’s squad ahead of their World Cup defense in 2017. The decision came as part of new £1 million investment in the women’s game, and will allow the squad to train full-time.

August 2016 | Olympic Coverage Backlash
Media coverage of female achievements during the Rio Games was consistently slammed as sexist and degrading. From Andy Murray’s put down of John Inverdale to Helen Skelton’s wardrobe debate, everyday sexism within the media was quickly shut down. The level of backlash to the media coverage showed a growing intolerance of gender inequality amongst sports fans and represents a new age of women’s sport reporting.

September 2016 | ‘Vast’ gender wage gap still exists
As we begin to feel we’d climbed the summit, our summer and post-Olympic come down was worsened by the Gender Balance in Global Sport report. Published by Women on Boards, it found significant differences in pay for men and women in basketball, golf and football.

September 2016 | City Make the Front Page
Ending on a high, Manchester City claimed their first WSL title in style, beating the current champions 2-0 and earning a rare front-page slot in The Guardian. A watershed moment for the women’s game, and a huge step forward for Women’s Sport.

Recapping on the year, it is apparent the media, sponsors, governing bodies and NGOs are all saying, doing, or acknowledging what needs to be done to continue to move forward. Disappointingly, the work of the many is all quickly undermined by the headline-grabbing actions of the few. Fortunately, opposing these outdated perceptions is a much stronger force and fans are ready to openly voice their outrage and disagreement. 10 years ago complaints would be buried in the news editors’ inboxes; today sport is an ongoing social media spectacle, and fans are the harshest, but most honest critics. Harnessing the power of them will be integral to really making a difference. Surely this, combined with new research, is enough for us to take action, instead of continuing to simply highlight the issues? I remind myself that we’re preaching to the converted: a room full of women – and men – who are at the forefront of advocating and supporting change.

We retweet, like and love posts from people that share and validate our opinion. But we are people who love sport, work in sport, and are already invested in it promoting women’s sport.

So, how do we only move forward? Women’s Sport needs to evolve from a movement into the norm. Women's Sport needs bigger brands that talk to a bigger audience. Brands have the power to reach the masses and be a part of social change.

After all, actions speak louder than words.

Terms & Conditions The Pledge

1. The Promoter is Synergy, a trading division of Engine Partners UK LLP of 60 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7RT.

2. Entrants in the competition must be based in the United Kingdom and be directly involved in women’s sport either as a team, governing body, charity or association.
3. The competition is not open to anyone directly connected with this prize draw. Employees or agents of the Promoter or any of its group companies or their families or households or anyone professionally connected to this competition may not enter the prize draw.
4. Entry into this competition is deemed to be acceptance of these terms and conditions.

5. Only one entry per organisation.

6. By submitting your entry to the prize draws you are acknowledging that you are a budget holder or decision maker for sponsorship or marketing of your organisation.

7. The competition opens at 11:00 on 20 June 2017 and it closes at 23:59 on 07 July 2017. Entries received after this time and date will not be considered.

8. Entries must be submitted by completing all details in the Google Form between the opening and closing dates. If there are any technical issues please email Charlotte.Piggott@synergy.global

9. Every valid entry is entered into the competition where entrants could win one of three prizes of up to £25,000 worth of creative development time from the Promoter’s agency staff.

10. The creative presentation dates and times are to be determined between the Promoter and the selected winners and all parties will commit to presentation dates fulfilled on or before 01 November 2017 (“Fulfilment Date”).
11. The winners will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of employees or agents of the Promoter after the closing date and will be notified by phone or email if successful on or before 21 July 2017. The panel of judges shall review the entries to determine the entry which, best answers the questions set out in the entry form; you must either be directly involved in women’s sport either as a team, governing body, charity or association. Winners must respond and confirm acceptance by 28 July 2017. In the event that the Promoter is not able to contact winner(s) by this date, substitute winner(s) will be selected and notified.

12. Further Prize Details:
a. Creative presentation; presented in person to the winners by the Promoter. Final idea pitch presentations will happen in September/October 2017 – final date by mutual agreement by both parties on or before the Fulfilment Date.

13. Further Prize Conditions:
a. Prize includes creative development time only;
b. Activation and delivery of the final ideas are not included; and
c. The Promoter reserves the right to replace the prize with an equivalent prize without notice.

14. No purchase is necessary.

15. The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative. No part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions. The prize must not be sold on or transferred to another party.

16. All intellectual property rights of any of the Promoter’s final creative ideas belong to the Promoter or as set out below:

a. Creating a new sponsorable asset: the winners agree to a commission to the Promoter at the point of sale to a brand, at which point the asset will be assigned to the winners.
b. Creating activation ideas for a current sponsor: the winners must have an engaged sponsor that agrees to a budget and should the winners choose to use the ideas proposed the Promoter, both parties will mutually agree ownership and implementation to the final creative ideas.
c. Creative ideas to get a potential sponsor over the line: the winners agree to a commission to the Promoter at the point of sale to a sponsor, at which point the ideas will be assigned to the winners.
d. Creating a marketing campaign for the winners: the Promoter and winners will mutually agree ownership to the final creative ideas.

17. By entering the prize draw, the winners confirm that the Promoter has permission to film and photograph them at the presentation, to participate in reasonable promotional activity including publicity or media interviews and for the images/footage to be used for up to five years for promotion purposes. The winners release any right to examine or approve the advertising and promotional material that may be used alongside or the use to which is might be applied. The winners give consent for their names and organisation and/or picture or other likeness (without any compensation or further obligation) in any manner and in any medium for advertising, marketing, public relations or other promotional purposes in connection with the Promoter’s website online, and social media promotion related to Women’s Sport Week and 1+51 campaign, except where prohibited by law.

18. The Promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

19. The Promoter accepts no liability for lost entries. The Promoter and its agents accept no responsibility for difficulties experienced in submitting an entry to these competition, including any technical, hardware or software failures of any kind or lost or unavailable network connections which may limit or prohibit an eligible entrant’s ability to participate in the competition.

20. No other expenses are included in the prizes, e.g. travel to/from the venue of the presentation or accommodation.

21. The Promoter reserves the right to exclude any entries at its complete discretion, including those entries which the Promoter believes to be fraudulent, or based on misconduct.

22. By entering these prize draws, entrants agree to the personal data they supply being used by the Promoter to administer the competition prizes.

23. This competition, prizes and these terms are governed by English law and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of English Courts.

24. The name and county of the three competition winners will be available after 31 July 2017 by sending a stamped addressed envelope to: Synergy Global, 60 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7RT.

Five Campaigns that Made 2016 a Year to Remember for Women’s Sport

For many, 2016 has been a year to forget. But amongst the obvious chaos, we are delighted to head into Christmas with some altogether more positive news. Figures released by Sport England in the last week have shown the number of women playing sport in England has reached an all-time high of 7.21 million. A plethora of sports including football, netball and hockey have all grown, whilst the difference between the number of men and women playing sport has narrowed to just 1.55 million. Notably, Sport England found the number of participants has increased by 250,000 since they launched their This Girl Can campaign in 2014. That’s a remarkable impact by anyone’s standards.So how have women’s sports campaigns fared since the incredible success of This Girl Can? Fortunately, they’ve been pretty good. In fact, this year alone has provided us with a number of campaigns worth sharing.

So let’s raise our glasses to the best women’s sport campaigns 2016 had to offer from around the world. If these five brilliant campaigns don’t get you inspired, then we don’t know what will.

1. Rethink Role Models – Samsung

As the official sponsor of Australia’s National Netball team, Samsung challenged Australians to rethink who they hold up as role models by shining a light on some of the sport’s most inspirational figures. Launched with this moving film featuring netballer Caitlin Bassett, the Rethink Role Models campaign went on to tell individual stories of five Netball players to inspire young girls around the country to get involved in the sport.

2. The Red Roses – RFUThe RFU announced the #RedRoses initiative with this inspirational film, showing the life of a female rugby player from birth to playing at Twickenham Stadium. Describing the campaign, RFU Chief Executive Ian Richie said: "We wanted to create an identity for England Women that would inspire more people to get involved whether playing or supporting the women’s game."
3. #RuleYourself – Under Armour

In February, Under Armour released the latest chapter of their #RuleYourself marketing campaign that originally launched in the summer of 2015. Featuring members of the USA Women’s Gymnastics team, this impressive film highlights the incredible strength and dedication of female athletes in the sport. The message? Hard work pays off, or as Under Armour like to put it, “It’s What You Do in the Dark That Puts You in the Light”.

4. Da Da Ding – NikeNike’s incredibly catchy ‘Da Da Ding’ film is the latest chapter of #justdoit. The campaign celebrates women’s sport across India, encouraging female participation in the country. Importantly, this isn’t about one particular sport, it has everything from throwing punches to shooting hoops, representing women in a fiercely competitive way not seen before in the country.
5. #PerfectNever – Reebok

Having faced trolling online for her muscular body shape and athleticism, Ronda Rousey stares her critics down in this film for Reebok. Using #PerfectNever, the film challenges the idea of perfection as Ronda Rousey tears off her makeup in favour of her training gear. She doesn’t claim to be perfect, nor does she have a desire to be. Because, as Reebok put it, “Being perfect isn’t as powerful as being human”.

Gold in Rio. What Does this Mean for Women’s Hockey?

Ever since I picked up my first hockey stick at the age of 12, I was hooked and the aspiration of playing for my country was born. To watch the Team GB women win gold in Rio and stand on the podium was one that I’ll remember forever. Not only has this made me immensely proud to play my sport, but the implications of this victory for hockey – and women’s sport in general – are unimaginable. This medal has paved the way for my sport and, arguably, secured its future success for many years to come.

To understand what winning gold in Rio means for the hockey community, let’s look at its impact on clubs, the media and what this means for the future.

1. Developing #Back2Hockey

Each year England Hockey run #Back2Hockey, an initiative which encourages clubs to engage with their local community to help with each club’s annual recruitment drive. Following the success at Rio, it’s expected that clubs will see a huge increase in participants from local schools and from ‘lapsed’ players (those who haven’t played hockey since leaving school or university).

Building on the first year of #Back2Hockey in 2014 (see my previous blog here), England Hockey have created #HockeyFest – a festival which encourages clubs to not only recruit new players, but celebrate hockey in the community over the course of the summer. Clubs have also been encouraged to hold inter-club tournaments, watch hockey matches live from Rio, as well as promote their activity across social media and through local press. Clubs with an affiliation with a medal winner have hosted coaching sessions with the GB players to inspire new members.

2. Riding the Rio media wave

Over the course of the summer, media interest in hockey has grown significantly. The Olympic Semi-Final and Final were shown live on BBC1 and BBC2 – the first time in the sport’s history. 9 million tuned into the Final, the huge demand pushing back BBC News at Ten to a later time.

Since their return to the UK, the gold medallists have been kept busy with a wide variety of appearances, from BBC Breakfast to A Question of Sport. None more so than Kate Richardson-Walsh, my personal hockey hero, who has arguably cemented herself as a national treasure. Over the years, Kate has been a figurehead for GB Women’s Hockey and was rightly appointed as flag-bearer at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. She first made the headlines at London 2012, where she fractured her jaw in Team GB’s opening match against Japan, but after receiving medical attention, she continued to play in the rest of tournament. The victory at Rio 2016 was the crowning glory of her career and will no doubt inspire a new generation of players.

3. The future – what does this mean now?

So, they’ve inspired a nation over the summer and are now seen across multiple channels promoting their success, but what does the future now hold for hockey in Britain? Well, it’s looking bright. Over the next few years, England Hockey have secured the right to host multiple international, as well as domestic competitions, to be held at London’s Lee Valley Hockey Centre and at Wembley Arena.

From the Men’s Hockey World League in June 2017 to the Women’s World Cup 2018, watching live hockey will be more accessible than ever. Sky Sports broadcasted the Women’s European Championships in 2015 and more coverage is planned. Sky Sports are a champion of GB Hockey and the team regularly feature in the Sky Sports Sportswomen TV programmes.

To ensure that they continue with the momentum created from Rio, England Hockey have given clubs and previous event attendees early access to tickets. The attendance at the first international tournament will be a big test to see if the governing body can utilise this increased interest. My belief, given the reaction post-Rio, is that they can.

A relevant question for the future is how brands can capitalise on the team’s success this summer. Investec, the women’s Principal Sponsor, have quickly started their activity with the team following their return from Rio. They’ve helped to raise the players’ individual profile by having a stylised team photo shoot taking place at a country estate with interviews highlighting interesting facts about them. Ahead of the Olympics, Investec also released a series of emotive and inspiring films which highlighted both key players and the head coach, on their journey to becoming GB Hockey team members. This included one of the team’s superstars, Maddie Hinch, who, with her incredible performance in the Final, helped to grab many ‘armchair’ fans’ attention.

The GB team’s win at Rio has clearly put international hockey and women in sport back on the news agenda. England and GB Hockey are on the right road to maintaining the sport’s momentum; however, more can be done to build excitement and participation ahead of Tokyo 2020.

To do so they must utilise hockey’s stars in innovative and engaging ways to help promote the sport and women’s sport in general. With the upcoming events planned, this is a very exciting time for hockey.

Women’s Sport Week 2016

Taking over our blog today, in honor of Women's Sport Week, is Anna Kessel, renowned sportswriter for the Guardian and the Observer, as well as Chair and co-founder of Women in Football. In June, Anna was awarded an MBE for her services to journalism and women in sport.

What makes sport so important to you? Why have you made it your mission for other women to embrace this?

Because for me, sport has remained this last bastion of male privilege in which women have been, and continue to be, excluded. And that's just rubbish because sport is great fun - why should women and girls miss out? It's also hugely important pretty much every way you look at it - the United Nations say sport has the power to tackle gender inequality across the globe, EY says sport can help women to smash the glass ceiling in their careers, and you've only got to think about it for two minutes to realise that sport is the perfect antidote to all the body image woes debilitating women in the Western world. With the 'fourth wave of feminism' at play everywhere we look at the moment - from fashion to TV, advertising to politics, I was determined that sport should not be left untouched by this modernising force. Sport needs women, and women - I think - need sport.

There was huge public outcry to the media’s sexism towards the female Olympians at Rio this summer. Were you surprised by the public’s response?

I was thrilled that everyone I knew was talking about a Hungarian swimmer whose husband was given the credit for her medal winning performance. Previously, those stories have barely registered in the sports pages, let alone the mainstream media. But over the summer every women's outlet going - not to mention national newspapers - published story after story about the sexiest episodes plaguing the Games. It was a real watershed moment, women and men outside of the usual sports audience waking up to some of the injustices that routinely take place in sport, and feeling outraged about them. It's all part of the bigger, and very important, picture of a widening slice of the population wanting to engage in sport and caring more about what happens in sport.

Women arguably have less time than ever before to participate and engage with sport. What can brands do to help make sport more accessible women with those time constraints?It's all about changing the usual offerings that sport gives us - thinking outside of the box, thinking from a range of female perspectives. Some of the solutions are obvious - for example Chelsea football club offering a crèche at Stamford Bridge for their fans. I'm pretty sure they're the only Premier League club to do this (something they should really shout about). Or it might be about creating a family led sporting experience e.g. Jessica Ennis-Hill has just launched a series of sporting days out for all the family, which fits in perfectly with families wanting to make the most of their leisure time together, be more active, spend more time outdoors, be healthier. The Cycletta series offers women various distance cycling events, followed by beauty treatments - which might not be everyone's cup of tea (and I know some women who will actively hate that sort of thing!) but ultimately, it's about offering a wider range of experiences for women to connect with, and putting across a very clear message that sport is for women, of all types, backgrounds and ages.

Should brands be leveraging their influence with men’s clubs/sport to help women’s teams/sport – for example should Adidas be pushing Manchester United to create a women’s side?

Yes! For anyone passionate about women's sport the fact that Manchester United continues to ignore women's football is a travesty. But, ethics aside, surely it makes business sense too? Currently sportswear giants are only making use of half of their potential market. Imagine if they could sell female specific football boots and kit to women and girls? At the moment girls and women who play football have to make do with boys and men's kit - even at an elite level (much to my irritation.) Look at the explosion in fitness clothing sales for women, don't sports brands want to capitalise on that to include sport specific kit? Add to that the recent trend for femvertising, and the power of championing women in connection with brands and it seems a no brainer - to me - that doing 'the right thing' by women and sport ticks all the boxes.

There are a lot of sports with big viewerships at the Olympics, take Gymnastics as an example, but are without major sponsors or profile domestically. Why do you think this is?

Because for aeons everyone's just accepted a particular hierarchy in sport, namely that men's Premier League football attracts all the cash and all the attention and not much else is worth bothering about. But the exciting thing about doing something new, and taking a risk, is how new ideas can fly and really take off. And that's a great creative space to be getting involved in, and potentially financially rewarding too.The Women's Boat Race is the classic example - Helena Morrissey bought the event for a song, and got a 10-fold return, as well as front and back page coverage of her brand in doing so, because she created a moment for the sport, a historical event. Last week I received an email advertising the gymnastics World Cup taking place at The O2 in London, marketed by Matchroom - Barry and Eddie Hearn's business. No one ever usually bothers with World Cups in Gymnastics, they're below World and European champs in the pecking order....and yet, as soon as I read the email I wanted to buy the family day ticket so I could take my daughter to watch the sessions because she - like millions of others - watched the Rio Olympics, thought, "wow", and asked, "Mummy when can we go and see the gymnastics in real life?"

Anna’s book Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives has been long listed for this year's William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.