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iwd celebration | improving representation in cycling - belinda and anna

Following International Women's Day, it is important to highlight the significance of female representation in all aspects of life, including the world of cycling. Historically, cycling has been a male-dominated sport, with little recognition or opportunities for women. However, in recent years, the sport has seen a positive increase in female participation and representation. This has brought attention to the need for gender equality in cycling and the importance of providing equal opportunities and support for women in Manchester across all areas of cycling, from bike maintenance to community cycling schemes.  With more women participating in cycling, we subsequently help break existing gender stereotypes and improve inclusivity in this sector. To get a first hand look at this, we recently interviewed two women about their experience working in different areas of the cycling sector, and the barriers to improving representation in cycling. "mANY PEOPLE DON'T SEE THEMSELVES REPRESENTED IN THE SECTOR" Belinda Everett is a bike mechanic based in Rusholme and runs ‘Bee Pedal Ready’, an organisation that provides bike maintenance and rides aimed at women, and is part of the change to diversify the cycling sector.  Speaking about work she does, Belinda explained;  “Working in cycling, I realised there were few women and people of colour in the sector; especially in bike maintenance. The main obstacle is representation – many people don’t see themselves represented in the sector.  Women and people of colour often don’t see themselves as ‘part of cycling’, and often lack the confidence to get involved. Bee Pedal Ready is working to address this. Many women want to learn in a safe and supportive space, with someone who represents them”. She further explained how “language can also be a barrier.  I delivered a great bike maintenance and safety session to the Chinese Health Information Centre in the City Centre and they had a translator which broke down this barrier”. And finally listed other barriers women encounter; - Equipment – helmets not fitting women with thicker hair/braids – reinforces their exclusion. - Women still having more childcare duties - less free time. - Less disposable income and time - Safety / difficulty getting to venue – safety and accessibility are important considerations for women.    Anna Smith is a Community Involvement Officer from Levenshulme who works at Station South. Her role is all about community engagement and encouraging people who are new to cycling to jump on the saddle and have a go. Through funding from Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival and MCRactive, Anne also runs bike rides and Women in the Workshop sessions using the fab female mechanics in the city. Station South is also a recipient of TFGM Cycle and Stride and Bike Library funding; enabling further community cycling opportunities. Anna noted; “The lack of female representation in the cycling industry is an issue, so we’ve worked hard to engage women of colour in particular from the local area.  This includes building up close relationships with those women who are interested to support and encourage them, with some going on to take up cycling training themselves to access paid work. Childcare often comes up as an issue, so we enable women to bring along their children and put on an activity for the kids whilst the mums do the maintenance sessions.  It’s little things like that that can really make a difference to women’s engagement.  One woman brought her little one in a sling and did the workshop with the baby attached!” "I NOTICED IT WAS ALMOST ALWAYS MEN WHO DID THE FIXING...SO I DECIDED TO LEARN TO DO IT FOR MYSELF" Belinda’s cycling journey began around 14 years ago, when she started working at Platt Fields BMX track and then began coaching at the National Cycling Centre BMX track, working with all ages and abilities, including elite riders. From then, Belinda began delivering cycling proficiency lessons in schools across Manchester and found her real passion. Belinda explained; “I loved the community engagement work and decided this is where I wanted to focus. I regularly experienced mechanical issues with riders’ bikes and found that I didn’t have the skills to fix them and often had to ask someone to help.  I noticed it was almost always men who did the fixing and I wasn’t learning from them, so decided to learn to do it for myself”.   "THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF CYCLING TO GET INVOLVED IN" Anna Smith’s journey also began around a similar time, where around 15 years ago she was involved with I Bike MCR and the Critical Mass rides. She was also involved in community art projects, so Anna combined this with community cycling where she could. For example she painted the fantastic mural on the side of the Platt Fields boathouse (as shown in the attached picture). From there, she became a cycling instructor for a number of organisations. Speaking on her love of cycling, Anna said; “There are so many different types of cycling to get involved in – community work, teaching, led rides, the BMX tracks and velodrome – all here in Manchester! I’m now getting my kids involved in cycling and have the challenge of how to fit them and all their stuff into the cycle trailer! I also love all the people and partnerships involved in cycling in Manchester – everyone seems to know each other, often joining forces to make great things happen!” Finally, speaking ahead of IWD, we asked both women about what’s next, and how others can get involved. Belinda told us;  “I’m involved in several International Women’s Day events.  I’m sharing a stage with actress and keen cyclist Maxine Peake at a Rapha event – talking about women’s cycling, accessibility and representation; I’m one of the guest speakers sharing my ‘cycling story’ at the Ladypedal Women’s Cycling Stories event at Station South; and I’m teaming up with other fantastic cycling women from Moston Cycling Club and Station South to run an International Women’s Day ride – can’t wait! ! All of these events are SOLD OUT!  Which shows the amazing level of interest in women’s cycling in Manchester. However I’m continuing to develop Bee Pedal Ready this year and deliver further activities, so watch this space” Anna then said; “I have put together a photography exhibition of the MCRwomenbike, which is now available to view at Station South.  Come and take a look at 50 of the fab Manchester cycling women and what they love about riding. I can’t wait to run the International Women's Day ride with Belinda from Bee Pedal Ready and Marina from Moston Cycles.  Around 60 women riding together!. In my role as Community Involvement Officer at Station South, I’m planning lots of cycling activity in 2023; as well as developing the walking and gardening activity at the centre”. Closing the gender gap in female representation in cycling is an important step towards closing the current gaps in cycling participation and promoting inclusivity overall. While progress has been made in recent years, with increased funding and support for women's cycling, there is still much work to be done. Encouraging more girls and women to participate in cycling at a grassroots level, increasing media coverage of women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ achievements in cycling, and providing pathways for women in cycling and mechanics are just some of the ways that we can work towards closing the gap. By doing so, we can create a more diverse and inclusive cycling community that empowers people in Manchester to lead a more active lifestyle, move more, and enjoy themselves whilst doing it We’d like to thank both Belinda and Anna for taking the time to speak to us and sharing their experiences. You can find out more information about them below Belinda/Bee Pedal Ready Social: Facebook / Instagram   Anna/Station South Web: Website Social: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook  Email:    Interested in cycling? Check out our cycling page here for ideas and tips to get you; your families, communities and workplaces cycling more. 

women & girls football - on the rise

Today marks International Women's Day 2023. Increasing the participation of Women & Girls in sport and physical activity in Manchester is a fundamental target for all of us. We are committed to closing the current gender gap in this space to persuade more women and young girls to participate in sport, in whatever way that is.   Our aim is to make clear the benefits of sport and activity participation to physical and mental health. We also know the influence women often have within their own families, and how their involvement will often encourage others to join in too. Widening access and exposure for Women & Girls in Manchester to find a pathway into activity, regardless of shape, size, experience and ability, is therefore paramount to closing this gender gap.   One such sport we are determined to improve local female participation in is football.   We’re thrilled therefore to see that the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament is already having a lasting social impact on female participation in football. The Tournament raised the profile of the women’s game  in Manchester and we have seen demand increase from women and girls,  not only to participate but also join the workforce and we have welcomed a number of newly qualified female coaches and referee’s this season.   Through the UEFA Euro 2022 Legacy Plan, we have been able to support our Clubs & Leagues to ensure there is capacity for the additional interest and demand in women’s football following the tournament.   Female participation in football has seen a fantastic rise of 33% (2021 figures) across Manchester. We have also seen an increase in affiliated teams grow from 144 to 183 across Manchester and Trafford local authority areas combined, and thanks to a female specific course delivered last summer, we now have 18 newly qualified female match officials  Actively refereeing across grassroots football.   There are now over 4,600 registered female players in Greater Manchester split across 4 leagues; Greater Manchester Women’s League (1,009), Manchester Women’s Flexi-League (595), South Manchester Girls League (2,372) and North Manchester Girls League (941).   But our dedication does not begin and end with the Euro’s , We are pleased that the Womens Recreational offer has now been expanded for a further two years with funding secured from Sport England, The FA and MCRactive. We will also continue our commitment to local clubs, groups and individuals responsible for driving the development of Women’s sport.   Check out just some of the football clubs and groups we’re working with below;   Manchester Laces - Women's Club, 16+ (CHECK OUT OUR 'IN FOCUS' INTERVIEW WITH THE LACES HERE) FC Bluestar - Girls teams from Wildcats to U15  AFC Manchester - U16 girls team Manchester Girls - U10 & U16 Fletcher Moss - U10 & U13 Hough End Griffins - Wildcats  Abraham Moss Warriors - Wildcats  Al Hilal - Unity Community Primary Khizra Mosque - Soccercise Sessions   Check out the map of adult female teams affiliated to Manchester FA here.   There are also a selection of events taking place in 2023. Check them out below:   22 February 2023: Manchester Young Leaders Programme @ City Football Academy 9:30-4:30pm 8 March 2023: LetGirlsPlay Biggest Ever Football Session 2023 @ Various Schools 8 March 2023: IWD Festival @ Trafford Fives 12 March 2023: Walking Football Tournament @ Trafford Fives 26 March 2023: Wildcats to Lionesses @ Trafford Fives 29 March 2023: Equal Game Ambassadors Workshop @ TBC 19 May 2023: Rekfest 2023 Tournament @ TBC 20 May 2023: Wildcats to Lionesses @ Trafford Fives     For more information on Womens and Girls football in Manchester or any of the sessions taking place in Manchester and how to get involved you can search our activity finder or contact Leigh Gell, Mcr FA  – Football Development Officer (Women & Girls) and Nicole Flynn, Mcr FA -  Womens Recreational Football Officer -

the hundred announces 2023 fixture dates

The Hundred is heading back to Manchester for 2023, bringing with it four weeks of spectacular entertainment and intense cricket action at the height of the summer. After two hugely successful years, the competition is set to kick off on Tuesday 1 August, promising high octane men’s and women’s sporting action, live music, and a host of family-friendly entertainment.    Emirates Old Trafford will host its first fixture on Saturday 5 August, with the Manchester Originals men’s and women’s teams kicking off their competition against London Spirit.     More than half a million people attended games during The Hundred’s second year in 2022, including a record-breaking 271,000 watching live women’s fixtures across the competition and more families buying tickets than in 2021. Emirates Old Trafford also saw a record attendance of 52,000 across the four matches in 2022. Alongside world-class cricket, fans were treated to memorable performances from a diverse line-up of artists and DJs including headliners Bastille and The Lottery Winners, thanks to The Hundred’s ongoing partnership with BBC Music Introducing.  There will be an initial, exclusive window to purchase tickets from 1-14 March for anyone who has previously bought tickets for The Hundred. Those yet to attend can sign up in advance at for priority ticket access from 5–18 April. Tickets will then go on general sale on Saturday 20 April. Tickets this year remain great value in line with 2022 pricing, with prices set at £5 for juniors aged 6-15, free for children five and under, and adults starting from £10.     The Hundred Eliminator, where second- and third-placed teams fight it out for a place in the final, is set for Saturday 26 August at Kia Oval. The Final itself will take place on Sunday 27 August at Lord’s.   For the first time this year The Hundred will see both the men’s and the women’s competitions host a draft. The date The Hundred Draft is due to be held is Thursday 2 March. Deadline day – the day on which retained players are confirmed across both competitions – is set to be Thursday 16 February.     Manchester Originals and England Men's World Cup-winning captain Jos Buttler, said: “I’m really excited for The Hundred this year. The atmosphere is always brilliant, and with the music and the entertainment it’s an incredible event to take part in. I know it’s a competition that’s helped the game reach new fans and that’s a great thing to be a part of.”   Sophie Ecclestone, the world’s number one bowler and Manchester Originals star, said: “The first two years of The Hundred have been incredible. We know how much the Emirates Old Trafford crowd are behind us and I’m buzzing for that first ball to be bowled in August. As a team we picked up a lot of momentum towards the end of last season and hopefully we can start well this year and challenge at the top of the table."   Over 14.1 million people tuned in to watch The Hundred action in 2022 and games will again be broadcast live on Sky Sports and BBC broadcast and digital channels throughout the competition.     To stay up to date with the latest news, buy tickets or to sign up for priority access, visit or follow The Hundred, and the eight teams, on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. FIND OUT MORE INFO HERE CHECK OUT THE MANCHESTER ORIGINALS FIXTURES BELOW: - Wednesday 2 August: Welsh Fire vs Manchester Originals, Sophia Gardens, women 11:30, men 15:00 - Saturday 5 August: Manchester Originals vs London Spirit, Emirates Old Trafford, women 11:00, men 14:30 - Monday 7 August: Manchester Originals vs Birmingham Phoenix, Emirates Old Trafford, women 15:00, men 18:30 - Wednesday 9 August: Oval Invincibles vs Manchester Originals, Kia Oval, women 15:00, men 18:30 - Sunday 13 August: Northern Superchargers vs Manchester Originals, Headingley, women 11:00, men 14:30 - Thursday 17 August: Trent Rockets vs Manchester Originals, Trent Bridge, women 15:00, men 18:30 - Sunday 20 August: Manchester Originals vs Northern Superchargers, women 11:00, men 14:30  - Wednesday 23 August: Manchester Originals vs Southern Brave, Emirates Old Trafford, women 15:00, men 18:30 - Saturday 26 August: The Hundred Eliminator, Kia Oval, women 14:30, men 18:00 - Sunday 27 August: The Hundred Final, Lord’s, women 14:15, men 18:00