No, I didn't injure my ankle falling off high heels

Why, in the 21st century, is it seen as so unlikely as to be laughable that a woman would hurt her ankle playing sport?

Share

The cab driver couldn't have been friendlier when I made my ungainly one-footed entry into the back of his car.

"Oh dear", he said, holding the door and looking down at my oversized, strapped up foot. "How did you do that then? Playing football?"

His brief laugh suggested he assumed I'd done it tottering over in a pair of heels or sprinting to the nearest handbag sale. But as it happens, the answer to the joke was yes. And, as it happens, he was the fifth man to make it in the three weeks since I tore my ankle ligaments having a kick about in the park.

Of course, the jokes were only meant in the spirit of good-humoured conversation and I didn't take offence. But they did raise a more serious question: why, in the 21st century, is it seen as so unlikely as to be laughable that a woman would hurt her ankle playing sport?

Last week The Independent on Sunday announced it was taking a stand on women's sport. For too long female athletes have been neglected in the media, with Britain's international successes going ignored and unreported when the competitors are missing a Y chromosome.

We want to report on this properly because a lot is at stake. Only one in five women (and one in 10 girls) does enough exercise to stay fit and healthy. For every newspaper or broadcaster that presents an all-male cast of sporting stars, there is another missed opportunity for a girl to be inspired to grab a bike, dive in a pool or pull on a pair of trainers.

I hated school PE, uninspired by netball and other genteel sports which seemed to be played in silly skirts. I don't remember seeing much women's sport on television either, and it wasn't until I was 18 and left in charge of football lessons for 60 boys in Malawi that I discovered one I loved.

A couple of years later, when I was an obsessive left-winger for my university football team, I bumped into an old PE teacher. She was surprised at my new-found sporting enthusiasm, but said it proved that anyone could find a sport they enjoyed, if they looked hard enough for it. Somewhat put off by her mocking tone, I never got round to asking her why, if that was the case, she hadn't put more effort into helping pupils in their search.

Half of all girls say they are put off sport and exercise by PE lessons, a figure which could be improved by introducing greater variety and enthusiasm into teaching the subject, particularly among non-specialists. This means not just encouraging the sporty pupils – but the seemingly uninterested ones, too. More than a third of girls say their PE teacher only pays attention to the sporty kids, a problem likely to exacerbate obesity and inactivity among women in later life.

But it is unfair to lay too much blame for this gender gap at the feet of overworked teachers, when so few of Britain's female athletes are given the courtesy of write-ups that could help them be role models for many. That is why this paper has pledged to cover the best of women's – and men's – sport.

Who knows, maybe the guys of the next generation will assume a woman with a knackered ankle must have done it making a heroic sliding tackle.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Cover Supervisors Urgently Required In Knowsley **

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Java developer - (Intershop Enfinity)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Java Developer...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  

Oscar Pistorius sentence: Judge Masipa might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice

Chris Maume
Oscar Pistorius at the High Court in Pretoria  

Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison - but what then?

Rosie Millard
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album