I use the hashtag #strongwomen a lot.
But this week’s guest on Sparta Chicks Radio certainly is one - not just physically but for the discrimination and sexism she’s endured for the sports she loves.
Stacey Copeland is a talented athlete.
A dual international, she has represented England at the highest levels in both football and boxing.
These days, Stacey is a professional boxer, having gained her professional licence earlier this year.
Stacey comes from a family of boxers and started training in the family boxing gym around the age of 6.
But she was too young to realise that, at the time, boxing was banned as a sport for women (that ban was only lifted in 1997 in the UK and 2008 here in my home State of New South Wales).
So when the boys in her training squad turned 11 and were allowed to compete, Stacey was left outside the ring, watching.
An incredible football career followed.
Stacey’s achievements included being a member of the England U18s squad, she played in the women’s premier league for Manchester City and the FA Cup as well as in the USA on a university sports scholarship.
By the time she retired from football, the ban on women’s boxing had been lifted so she returned to the sport she loved.
Now, that sounds like a “and they all lived happily ever after” story but the reality is the ban on women’s boxing means that Stacey, and I’m sure hundreds of women like her, will never know how good they could have been and will never compete at the highest level such as the Olympic or Commonwealth Games.
And women in the sport still struggle, on a daily basis, with societal expectations about what women should and shouldn’t do.
In this episode, we don’t discuss boxing so much as Stacey’s experience of being a girl, and now a woman, involved in two sports that are traditionally seen as “male sports”.
* the pressure she feels to perform so that the entire sport of women’s boxing isn’t painted as rubbish,
* becoming aware that she was considered “weird” in secondary school because of the sports she chose,
* what she reminds herself of when struggling with fear and self-doubt,
* the heartbreaking moment the Imposter Complex ruined her debut on the England U18s squad,
* the importance of having role models to look up to, and
* why we need to be consciously aware of the language we use and the labels we give people.
Click here to listen on iTunes.
Notes and resources:
iTunes | Stitcher
To find out more about Stacy or to say hello, you can find her on Instagram and Twitter.
Stacey’s TEDxTalk ~ A Fighter's Guide to Performance Anxiety
You can also listen to Stacey on the Tough Girl podcast here.