PPF - 3rd July 2023 - PPF Launches Female Athletes Week

PPF - 3rd July 2023 - PPF Launches Female Athletes Week

July 3rd 2023

To coincide with a number of high profile women’s sport events this summer, the Professional Players Federation (PPF) is hosting its first Female Athletes Week from July 3rd to 9th kindly supported by the Tom Maynard Trust. During the week, the PPF will be releasing a range of case studies, videos and other resources relating to professional sportswomen. These will highlight some of the issues women face and the support they receive from player associations to enhance their sporting careers and continue their personal development.

As part of the week, the PPF will be hosting an event at the Kia Oval ahead of the Women’s Ashes IT20 match on Wednesday 5th July. The event will include a players panel, group discussions and networking opportunities for Associations, their members and those working within women’s sport.

The players discussion panel will be hosted by former England netball captain Ama Agbeze and attendees will hear from former England Red Roses captain Sarah Hunter CBE, Saracens Mavericks netballer Kira Rothwell, England U19s and Western Storm cricketer Sophia Smale, WSL footballer Victoria Williams and former Jump jockey Page Fuller.

There will also be an opportunity to hear from Player Association heads, Christian Day (Rugby Players Association), Rob Lynch (Professional Cricketers Association) and Maheta Molango (Professional Footballers Association) who will be reflecting on the issues facing women’s professional sport and how player bodies are helping to ensure that the players voice is a central part of discussions around the future of women’s sport.

PPF Chief Executive Simon Taylor said:

“With the professionalisation of women’s sport, Player Associations are continually looking at how best to optimise support for their female members. PPF Female Athletes Week will highlight the progress made to date and allow players from different sports to share experiences on issues such as welfare, contracts, education and training.”

Sarah Hunter CBE said:

“I am delighted to take part in PPF Female Athletes Week and I’m looking forward to speaking with athletes and representatives from other sports to see what we can learn from each other and help improve support for the younger generation. Professional players need strong player bodies to represent us when dealing with other stakeholders as they play a vital role in improving our working conditions, helping our personal development, and providing welfare support so it’s important that our voices are heard so that women’s sport can continue to grow for the benefit of everyone.”

Find more info here.

Players taking part in the discussion panel at the PPF Female Athletes Week event at The Kia Oval are:

Sarah Hunter CBE, Former Captain/current Transition Coach Red Roses
Sarah (37) started out playing rugby league as a nine-year-old and while studying for her Sports Science and Mathematics degree at Loughborough University, Hunter went on to perform a player-coach role at Loughborough Lightning. Sarah led from the front during her playing career as she won one World Cup, and 10 Six Nation titles including nine Grand Slams. She retired from the game after the opening TikTok Women’s Six Nations game in March, in front of her home crowd at Newcastle. She was awarded an MBE back in 2016, for services to rugby. She has gone on to be appointed as the Transition Coach for the Red Roses.

Page Fuller, Former Jockey & PJA Board Member
Page (28) rode as a Jump jockey for ten years after abandoning an Economics degree at Exeter University to pursue her career in racing. She rode 108 winners but suffered a string of injuries including a mid-race ‘mini stroke’ in October 2022 before retiring from the saddle in April 2023. In her role on the board of the Professional Jockeys Association, she has campaigned for better weighing room facilities for female athletes and has lobbied for more support around female health issues and making weight. She has always been very proactive in engaging with JETS (Jockeys Education & Training Scheme) during injury time and with an eye on the future, has undertaken media training with Chamberlin Sports Media, and has made several media appearances.

Kira Rothwell, Netballer Saracens Mavericks
Kira (22) has been a Superleague player since 2018 spending 4 years at London Pulse and most recently at Saracens Mavericks. Not in the England Futures programme this year, Kira plans to focus on her performance and hopes to re-enter the programme next year, alongside looking for work in healthcare to gain experience for her future off court career. She has recently graduated from Birmingham University with a degree in Natural Sciences.

Sophia Smale, Western Storm
Sophia (18) plays for Western Storm, making her debut in 2022. A graduate of Western Storm's Academy and Wales pathways, Sophia has gone on to represent England at the U19 World Cup in January, playing a key role as they reached the final. Sophia burst on to the professional scene during The Hundred, showcasing her bowling skills for Oval Invincibles and helping them win the 2022 tournament at Lord’s. Sophia has recently completed her A-Levels alongside cricket and has a keen passion for philosophy and religion.

Victoria Williams, WSL player
Victoria Williams (33) is a professional footballer, having most recently played for Brighton and Hove Albion in the WSL.
Victoria spent time with her hometown team Doncaster, and then Arsenal and Leeds as a youth player, making her debut for the latter in 2007. After spending two years with Doncaster Belles, Williams joined Chelsea in 2012, before returning to the Belles for a year. A move to Sunderland followed in 2015 before she joined Brighton in 2018. Williams captained Albion on a number of occasions during her time with the club. She represents Jamaica at international level and was previously capped up to the under-23s by England.

Victoria has spoken openly about her experiences with discrimination, the importance of diversity in sport and challenges athletes face with self-confidence.