The Kia Oval and PCA celebrate women in sport - Kia Oval Skip to main content

The Kia Oval opened its door to celebrate International Women’s Day as the Professional Cricket Association (PCA) hosted the #InspireInclusion event in the 175 Suite on 7 March, in collaboration with Surrey CCC and South East Stars.

With a room full of 200 people, the event celebrated diversity and inclusivity in the world of sport throughout the day. Attendees heard from influential voices and internationally renowned female leaders from on and off the pitch, who have been breaking barriers in sport.

The speakers shared their incredible journeys and offered some invaluable insights, aiming to equip the audience on how to make their working environments more inclusive.

The PCA’s EDI Director, Donna Fraser OBE, introduced the event with a welcome from PCA Chief Executive, Rob Lynch.

In the day’s first panel, ‘Leadership and Inspiring Future Female Leaders’, those in attendance heard from Inclusion and Diversity specialist in Sport Rimla Akhtar OBE, Director of EDI at the PFA Simone Pound, author and pioneer in women’s sport Sue Anstiss MBE and Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Katie Sadleir.

Their discussions promoted equity and unity through the power of sport as they conversed on how they got into the industry and received questions on how to inspire the next generation of female leaders coming into sport.

The second panel, ‘Challenges and Allyship’ was hosted by Fraser with expert insight from former England cricketer Fran Wilson, former England rugby player Shaunagh Brown and former Welsh footballer Helen Ward. Their stories were truly inspirational whilst also exploring some of the inequalities that they had experienced during their incredible careers.

Questions ranged from how to be a better ally for women’s sport to what advice the panel had for the next generation of athletes, as well as exploring different forms of leadership and lifting others up.

After the panel discussions, refreshments and networking opportunities, eager attendees took part in an introduction to cricket session with expert coaching from former England all-rounder and PCA Inclusion Champion Alex Tudor, former England and Kent off-spinner Min Patel, and Western Storm’s Wilson.

The session included fielding activities and games before the opportunity to face Tudor in the nets, fully kitted up, as the former England bowler encouraged all to participate.

Narrowing the equity gap has been demonstrated in recent times with the ECB equalising match fees for men’s and women’s players alongside the professionalisation of women’s cricket.

PCA EDI Director, Donna Fraser, said: “International Women’s Day is a really important date in the calendar to stop, reflect and consider how women are viewed in sport. We pinpointed this event as a priority to create an environment for people to come together to celebrate and challenge the future of women in sport.

“There’s so much work being done within the PCA to push the boundaries, we lobbied the ECB for equal international match fees but there’s lots more work to be done.”

Former England international and Western Storm batter, Fran Wilson, said: “I wanted to get involved because there’s loads of really cool people in the room and there’s some amazing leaders here.

“Getting everyone involved in fighting for the same cause is really important, it’s about having a common collective goal and making things better for everyone.”

Former England Rugby international, Shaunagh Brown, said: “We still have a long way to go in women’s sport but it’s really good to see the strides that have been made in recent years but the exciting thing is realising how much further there is to go too.

“I think the audience were inspired by what they’ve heard today and I hope they take initiative and take away things for themselves that they can use in their own lives.

“It was great to see men in the audience today as well, that means the allyship aspect of what we’re talking about is really being listened to.”