Sport online editor, Nicola Kenton, attended the ‘This Brum Girl Can Night In’ at UB Sport & Fitness at the beginning of the month

4th year Geography student and online editor of Redbrick Sport. Supporter of Northamptonshire teams. Particularly interested in and write about F1, Swimming, Athletics, Darts and Sports Personality of the Year.
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On Sunday 4th June, over 150 people descended on the recently opened UB Sport & Fitness club to take part in the This Girl Can event which had been organised by Sports Officer, Georgie Freeman. The evening was an opportunity for all female and non-binary members of the student and local community to take part in some exercise classes and activities, as well as potentially seeing the facilities at the new sports centre for the first time.

Sports Officer, Freeman said that it was the University of Nottingham’s video of a similar event inspired her to try and organise the same thing for Birmingham. Funding for the event was acquired through BUCS, who were allocated £50,000 when Sport England launched the second wave of the This Girl Can project in February this year. Universities had to pitch for the funding, trying to prove that they had a clear identification of the group the event would be targeted at, an action plan for engaging community and the help of the student union alongside the BUCS funding. Birmingham were one of the universities who were successful and Freeman decided that holding the event in the new sports centre would allow people to experience world-class facilities, as well as a fun evening of sport.

Speaking of the event, Freeman said, “We wanted to use UB Sport & Fitness so finding a day where we would not disrupt the public was essential. We’ve only used some of the courts today, so that the public are still able to use many of the facilities on offer. I sent out an email to the sports clubs to see if they wanted to get involved so they’ve put on some sessions, some are by instructors here at the centre and PowerSoc is a Guild society.

“We went with a similar idea to the University of Nottingham and try to add to it. Ross Strong has been involved from the beginning and has helped to create the chill-out zone and choose the leaflets which were given out about mental health. One of my aims for this year was to get more people into ‘social sport’ for putting on sporting events for those who don’t normally participate; we tried to focus on getting the community and liberation associations involved with the event. ”

There were many activities to take part in with sports clubs running some of the sessions. The 21 sports on offer included: Table Tennis, Rugby Union, Archery, Body Combat, Touch Tennis, Netball, Dodgeball, Cheerleading, Volleyball, Soccercise, Badminton, Wing Chun, Judo, Taekwondo, Korfball, Yoga, Disco Cycle, Jujitsu Self Defence, Basketball, Zumba and PowerSoc.  This range of sports allowed people to experience something new, as well as sports which most people will have done at some point even if it was only at school.

Today helped me understand that comparing my own physicality to girls on Instagram is maybe something I should do a lot less of!

On top of this there was a chill-out zone for when people needed a rest, wanted to eat some food or just didn’t want to take part in any of the exercises on offer at the time. Most of the officer team were in room, along with many snacks both healthy and not as well as board games and leaflets on Mental Health. Welfare Officer, Ross Strong, was on hand to answer any questions about mental health support at UoB and there were many leaflets explaining the correlation between exercise and mental wellbeing.

From a personal perspective, I participated in the Body Combat, Yoga and Zumba sessions and sat in the chill-out zone to cool down in between my chosen sessions. When there were a few free sessions back in October/November, I went to the Zumba session and really enjoyed it and was so glad to see it was the same instructor. The instructors in all of these sessions were so body positive, they didn’t force you to do anything but at the same time were motivating you to try something new and try and push yourself as far as you could. After the sessions, they answered questions anyone had about any sessions that they lead or how to work around injuries that people had. The atmosphere in these classes was great and the studio where they took place was full for every single one. There were many red faces and the burn was felt but it didn’t matter because we were all doing it together!

Ruth Simone Sherry also attended the event and afterwards said, “Thanks for this! I had a great time and will sleep like a baby tonight ready to ache more in the morning. It really increased my body confidence before summer. Today helped me understand that comparing my own physicality to girls on Instagram is maybe something I should do a lot less of!”

This encompasses what I’m sure many were feeling when they attended the event, possibly nervous about doing exercise in front of people but in the end, as long as you’re moving, you’re doing the right thing!