Closing the dream gap: Amanda’s 52-mile challenge for Women in Sport


Once upon a time I gave up. I gave up wanting to engage in sport because society supported me to do so. Falling out of the sporting loop was easy, actually.

Back at school age, which feels like a lifetime ago, the sporting landscape was unrecognisable from how it is today. There was a half-hearted approach to girls participating in PE, a lack of identifiable women role models, and a mainstream media that promoted looking perfect over being your authentic self.

A lot of that has changed, much of it for the better, but a gap still exists. It’s mind-blowing to think that 20 years on, the disparity between boys and girls dreaming of being sports stars is as vast as it is.

Everyone deserves to dream. And dreams come in all shapes and sizes. An open attitude to participation should be a starting point for all young girls because it’s a safe space, full of community and connection. It’s not about skill or proficiency, just about expression and fun.

I am learning that I have more mental strength than I thought I did.

The word fun is not how I described sport at school, but it’s how I’ve come to think of it now. For me, sport is a stress relief, and it’s so refreshing to be a part of a group where being ordinary at something is actually okay. I’m not a sports star, never have been, but I am someone who enjoys the challenge. And this is a big challenge.

I am learning that I have more mental strength than I thought I did. The runs, especially the longer ones, are really tough but I have yet to stop before I have covered the distance I set out to. The community aspect of running has really surprised me. I am lucky that there is a fantastic run club near me – Manc Roadrunners – and they have been incredibly welcoming and social.

I started out thinking 52 miles wasn’t enough and have to remind myself consistently that 52 miles in a month, for a non-runner, is a long way to go, and a long way to have come from where I was. I’m learning to fall in love with sport again, making up for some lost years, in the hope that one day, eventually, schools and society will support young girls to carry through their passions in a more sustainable way. Sport is the ultimate unifier of people, after all. And that should be celebrated!

I really value Women in Sport’s insights and data-led approach. Their Dream Deficit survey shows that while 52% of boys say they dream of becoming a top athlete, only 29% of girls dare to dream the same dream.

I chose to run 52 miles in May in the hope that this statistic will one day be equal.


Young white girl playing tennis

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