Glorious Is Sport. Culture. Life.
We are Glorious an online platform that’s building a community to elevate women’s sport through the lens of art and culture
By Liz Connor
For all of us who love women’s sport, it’s been a decade of seismic shifts. Simone Biles nailing the perfect 180-degree split leap at the Rio Olympics. Katarina Johnson Thompson’s emotional reaction as she scanned the scoreboard, learning she’d clinched heptathlon gold at the World Championships in Doha. Megan Rapinoe, arms triumphantly outstretched, assuredly celebrating a goal against France in the Women’s World Cup, a tournament that attracted over 1 billion viewers.
Just look at the Tokyo Olympic Games for proof; it’s the first gender-balanced Games in history, with 48.8% women’s participation. It’s a landmark year for British women because out of the 375 athletes from Team GB, there are more women than men competing for the first time.
According to research carried out by the thinktank Two Circles, in tandem with the Women’s Sport Trust, women’s sport is levelling up right now, and it’s estimated to generate £1bn per year by 2030. It’s an incredible figure that sums up the exciting future for fans and viewers: we’re growing in stadiums, velodromes and arenas, as visibility, sponsorship and opportunities for sportswomen encourage big-ticket sales across the board.
Timely, then, that Glorious Sport should arrive at this bar-raising moment, offering a much-needed space for women to explore athletic strength and sporting achievement in all of its varied forms. Using the lens of art and culture as its genesis, the membership platform has given women’s sport worldwide a new kind of creative aesthetic, telling community stories from across the globe through interviews, trend pieces, photography series, and films. Despite the industry booming over the past few years, women’s sporting triumphs don’t enjoy half of the coverage as those of men, and never before have we been afforded a dedicated, curated destination that marries the worlds of sport, culture and lifestyle.
When I started writing features about women’s fitness seven years ago, there was an underlying misconception that women were solely interested in calorie-blitzing cardio workouts. Now, thanks to landmark moments like Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, the stigma is shifting and women can finally access the sports they enjoy without fear of judgement or other social barriers.
Everyone has access to a snapshot of the Glorious website, but if you’re a member, you can unlock the full scale of the creative storytelling, with work from award-winning writers, photographers, illustrators, artists and filmmakers. Collaboratively, they have elevated some incredible pockets of women’s sport, from the everyday to the obscure. So far, they’ve featured stories as varied as a troop of senior cheerleaders in Arizona and a London sprint club, right through to a profile on amputee surfer Dani Burt.
In one investigative feature, writer Emily Chappell takes her road bike along to Rapha’s Cycling Club to pedal alongside the tight-knit, intimate women’s cycling community, learning how life on two wheels has united women from different backgrounds. In it, she reflects on how riding in the peloton was, up until a few years ago, a solitary activity, until she found camaraderie alongside a new wave of women taking up the sport.
In another, the Glorious team decamp to Yorkshire to meet the Batley Ninjas, a predominantly South Asian, all-female rounders team that has given its members a much-needed gateway to fitness, friendship and inclusivity. It’s these lesser-celebrated grassroots clubs and jumpers-for-goalposts anecdotes that tell the true story of women’s sport outside of the elite 1%, championing the well-documented wellbeing benefits for all. Amongst the diverse and visually led content, the platform has featured renowned photographers Coco Capitan and Maria Svarbova, as well as award-winning writers including The Telegraph’s Alice Barraclough and Jessica Noah Morgan, deputy editor for The Face.
Regular series include ‘Life of Two Halves’, which looks at women who balance day jobs with sporting careers and ‘Meet the first woman to…’, which has profiled pioneering athletes such as the first woman to successfully kayak through the Amazon, and Dottie Frazier – the first female scuba diver. There’s music, too, with Sports Team drummer Al Greenwood contributing a regular playlist series, interviewing the likes of singer Olivia Dean and cricketer Issy Wong about the connection between music and movement.
Together, it brings a totally unique approach to women’s sport, and one that relates to play, pleasure and entertainment, rather than solely focusing on sporting prowess and strength. This means you’re just as likely to read about a decorated athlete or a contemporary photographer as you are a niche pocket of local sportswomen. Raising the visibility and increasing the impact of women in sport is something that both Glorious and its charity partner, Women’s Sport Trust, are backing together, with a number of athletes in the 2021 Unlocked programme telling their story on the platform, including netballer Kadeen Corbin, England Rugby player Shaunagh Brown, and Olympic hockey player Sarah Evans.
The online hub is ultimately more than just a platform for reading about fitness, though – it’s a dynamic network where women in the sporting and creative industries can meet and talk about our interests and passions, whether you take part in sport or it serves as the inspiration for your creative work.
Developing a safe, welcoming space that women want to be part of is so intrinsic to pushing women’s sport to the next level, and supporting grassroots organisations, communities and charities is at the heart of what Glorious does. Championing fitness for everyone, no matter your discipline or fitness level, has been a major talking point in recent years, and I’m happy to see there’s a place for women to share their passion for sport, whether you enjoy taking part or simply observe it through creative means.
Still, there’s still a long way for us to go. There remains a substantial pay gap between men and women in sport and our successes are not nearly amplified as loudly as our male counterparts’. The pandemic has also had a devastating effect on women’s sport, with cancellations stalling its growth and the long-term financial implications of the virus threatening its funding.
Glorious is just one piece in a growing puzzle that aims to keep the ball rolling, by giving women’s sport the online platform it deserves, and its community a voice in the process, calling on fans and followers to reach out with untold, local stories of incredible women doing great things. Whether grassroots or professional, capturing these voices carves out a richer tapestry of our sporting achievements and helps to push gender equality across the board.
A special thanks to Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Sista Skates, Naohmi Monroe, Maria Svarbova, The Whippets FC, Vic Lentaigne, Maeve Mckenney, Ossi Piispanen, Root, Aleksandra Kingo, Anja Niemi, Todd Antony, The Sun City Poms, Milos Nejezchleb, Giulia Alfeo, Marina Correia, Axel Massin, The Batley Ninjas, Heiko Prigge, Laura Bailey, Ahmet Husseyin, Steph Bolam and Lola, Claudia Agati, Jools Walker, Rapha, Stacey Copeland, Kadeen Corbin, Shaunagh Brown, Lauren Rowles, Alice Masterman, Sarah Evans, Niamh Emerson, Tim Spicer, Radka Lietmeritz, Grl Swirl, The Witches of The Orient released by Modern Films, Ballet After Dark, Matthew McQuillan
Lydia Heywood, Cat Sims, Al Greenwood And Dillon Steele and all the others who are making Glorious, Glorious!