Alan Hubbard

With Britain on the brink of ushering a third female Prime Minister into No 10 Downing Street, the indication is that we are now living very much in a woman’s world politically. The same goes for sport.

The nation continues to savour the joyous success of England’s Lionesses in the Euros, which happily coincided with a Commonwealth Games which saw more women competing than men and consequently winning more medals.

Golden girl power indeed!

Recent events suggest that at long last sportswomen, both globally and nationally, are emerging from the shadows to earn their place in the sun. As well as The Sun, which in common with other popular prints devoted seven pages to their victory.

It may be that one of the principal legacies of Birmingham‘s impressive staging of the Commonwealth Games will be the advancement of women in both competition and administration

While enjoying much success athletically we also saw more female officials, including a remarkable breakthrough in the macho world of boxing with women referees and judges assigned to both male and female bouts.

This was the case even for the "blue riband" of the tournament, the men's super heavyweight final in which England’s aptly named Russian reared Delicious Orie won gold.

Liz Truss is the front runner to become the next Prime Minister of Britain ©Getty Images
Liz Truss is the front runner to become the next Prime Minister of Britain ©Getty Images

Even more remarkably comes the news that fiercely feudal Saudi Arabia will feature a women's boxing match for the first time on next week’s show in Jeddah when respective Olympic champions Anthony Joshua of Britain and Oleksandr Usyk meet again to contest the Ukrainian’s world heavyweight titles.

Saudi also planned to stage a women’s golf tournament but contestants must wear trousers and not shorts.

Blatant sportswashing it may be, but nonetheless, it is astonishing that land where until recently women were not allowed to drive a car, let alone drive off the first tee.

Yes, times are changing, and much for the better, thankfully. 

In the UK, more women are involved with sport than ever, although still, half the number compared to men.

Now it is not only men but girls who come out to play.

No longer are they sporting suffragettes. 

Now they can simply take off their tops and celebrate in a sports bra. 

It was 1913 when Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s horse in the Epsom Derby to highlight the Suffragette Movement. 

Over a century later, female jockeys like Hollie Doyle and Rachael Blackmore are regularly riding the hot-desking, and beating male counterparts to the winning post.

There is no significant sport in which the glass ceiling remains intact. A good thing too.

Women’s sport seems to have become fashionable, and more popular with fans and the media. 

The sellout crowd at Wembley for the final of the Euros between England and Germany included many families and children.

Chloe Kelly's iconic celebration after scoring the winner in the Women's Euro final against Germany is considered empowering ©Getty Images
Chloe Kelly's iconic celebration after scoring the winner in the Women's Euro final against Germany is considered empowering ©Getty Images

I doubt one reason because the tickets were reasonably priced, something the Premier League should note in the necessary drive to attract younger fans.

Across the Atlantic, the women’s tennis final in last year’s US Open attracted more television viewers than the men’s. 

Emma Raducanu was seemingly more popular than Novak Djokovic.

Okay, these seem to be relatively small steps, but they could be leading to a giant leap for womankind.

Even some of my more chauvinistic male mates are having to grudgingly admit that women’s sport has become more skilful and entertaining in recent years. 

There are good reasons for this, including funding a better understanding of diet and training techniques, professionalism,camaraderie in team sports such as football and hockey (another Games success story for England’s women) and, of course, coaching. 

The hiring of Sarina Wiegman to take charge of the Lionesses was a master stroke.

Then there is the once taboo subject of menstruation. 

"Time of the month" no longer seems to be an excuse for poor performance. 

Sports medics say that periods, which can have a debilitating effect in competition, are usually managed by the use of tampons or legal medication which delays or eliminates them.

In the days when the likes of Billie Jean King were pioneering the progress of women in sport, the slogan was "you’ve come a long way, baby."

Not quite far enough yet, though equality is still some ways off, particularly in professional sport.

Leah Williamson who plays for Arsenal is said to have earned £200,000 last season from salary and endorsements.

Not a bad wage in these frugal times, but a run-of-the-mill Premier League player can pocket that in a week.

Even so, women’s sport collective chief executive Sue Anstiss says there is "an exciting future" for women’s sport both on the field and for those who watch.

There are more women in administrative roles in sport like Commonwealth Games federation chief executive Katie Sadleir ©Getty Images
There are more women in administrative roles in sport like Commonwealth Games federation chief executive Katie Sadleir ©Getty Images

"We must applaud the work of broadcasters like Sky Sports who have been innovative in the ways they have supported the growth of women’s sport which is driving more people to watch and follow," Anstiss said.

I have previously highlighted here the proliferation of female sports presenters, commentators and pundits on all TV channels and covering nearly all sports. 

Even boxing has female interviewers and football, rugby and cricket often have two on the panel of pundits.

A recent poll conducted by Sky and Leaders in Sport showed that public interest in women’s sport rose dramatically during and after the a pandemic with 21% of UK adults following it more than they did 18 months ago.

Nearly a quarter of men (24%) say they now follow more women in sport than before.

Former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, herself a former footballer, chaired the review and says "this new research shows that despite the pandemic, women’s sport has great resilience and he’s not just surviving but thriving after an exciting summer of sport."

Jonathan Licht, managing director of Sky Sports says there is an increased appetite from the public.

"The success of the Hundred and the incredible viewing figures for the Women’s Super League at the start of the new broadcast deal highlight the momentum behind women’s sport. We are excited to support and contribute to its long-term success."

BBC coverage of the Euros final peaked at 17 million.

The viewing figures for the Commonwealth Games were also healthy throughout. 

Again, female pundits and presenters, among them the brilliant Gabby Logan, Denise Lewis and Jessica Ennis, added even more of a woman’s touch to an event that had strong female leadership in Commonwealth Games Federation President, Scotland’s long-serving Dame Louise Martin and new chief executive Katie Sadleir who comes from New Zealand’s rugby administration.

Is this a sign of multi-sport governance in years to come? 

What a pleasant surprise it would be if a woman, and I fancy the chances of a Moroccan track legend Nawal El Moutawakel, should succeed incumbent Thomas Bach as President of the International Olympic Committee.

Now that really would be one giant leap for sport’s womankind!