WMF wishes all women a happy World Women's Day!
To recognize this day we have put together some thoughts around the impact of women on minigolf and how they see the sport supporting and uplifting female athletes.
"Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice." Bethany Hamilton, surfer.
All our lives, we are told that women are the fairer, weaker gender and yet we see women breaking new barriers, one day at a time. In sports, or in real life women face constant challenges and they overcome most of them with dignity and grace.
Simone Biles, the American gymnast, who is a four-time Olympic gold-medal winner, was told by judges she should smile more in her Dancing with the Stars performances to which she replied, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals”. Women should not be held to different standards than men, and we deserve the same respect and recognition for the same achievements.
Talking about Minigolf, it is interesting to note that one of the oldest Minigolf course was formed in 1867 as a members-only club for women golfers at St. Andrews, Scotland. The club was created as it was deemed improper for a lady to “take the club back past their shoulder.” Over 150 years later, we tend to recognize the flaws of the system and we are making efforts to bridge the gap between men and women.
The representation of women in Minigolf is notable. Our Secretary General, Sandra Walker, is a woman built with confidence and wit. Our Media-Committee Chairperson, Sarah Schumacher, has a clear sense of direction and says “Minigolf has taught me the power of will. To stay focused and never give up. That has helped me to reach my goals, not only in sports, but in all areas of life".
Minigolf as a sport is very accommodating. It can be played by everybody. “Your background, status, gender or age, doesn’t matter” as explained by Marianne Groenendijkt, from Holland “It is friendly, enjoyable, fair play and easy to learn. You can play it all over the world. No special clothes needed, just a pair of sneakers”. One of the things that makes minigolf unique in sport is that women and men are competing for the same top prize in tournaments without discrimination.
Still, there are way less female than male minigolf athletes, that we are aware of. It is the goal of WMF to reinforce Gender Equality by:
- Promoting women’s leadership and gender equality in governance models
- Prevent and respond to gender-based violence
- Undertake to close the gap in investment in women’s minigolf sport and support equal economic opportunities for women and girls
- Provide equal opportunities for girls in sport, physical activity and physical education
(Strategic plan 2021 – 2024)
In the light of this, Anna Bandera, reigning world champion, has a message to all women out there: “I firmly believe that in life as in sports, women are and will always be the driving force, capable of bringing innovation, ideas, visibility and results”. As inspiration for many minigolf athletes, she has always tried to support women and increase the spread of Minigolf in the female universe, especially within the Italian Minigolf Sports Federation.
Gender discrimination is a real issue, Feminism is still often misunderstood as hating men. Sexism, Misogyny and Patriarchy are simple words with very deep and disturbing meaning. We understand that women are not going to be empowered overnight and it is going to require constant dedication and effort. But, here at Minigolf, we try to overcome these inequalities and create an environment of impartiality, especially tackling the gender-bias.
Therefore on the occasion of International Women’s Day, we salute the women in every field of life.
As Mia Hamm said, “Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… PLAY FOR HER.”
Text by Rutuja Manwatkar - Member of Women in Sport and Media Committee