UCFB students recently accepted an invaluable rare opportunity to network with some of the sports industry’s leading female figureheads as they attended BBC Sport’s Women’s Sports Week debate, held at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

The inaugural week of its kind, BBC Sport established Women’s Sports Week to celebrate, raise awareness and increase the profile of women’s sport within the UK from 1st to 7th June. The debate, hosted by BBC Sport commentator and UCFB guest speaker Jacqui Oatley, saw a panel of experts discuss women working in the national game and means to encourage more women to work within the industry.

The panel included UCFB ambassador, former England and Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis, as well as Anna Kessel, sports writer for the Guardian and Observer, Sylvia Gore, former international footballer, and Liz Ellen, head of sports law at Mischon de Reya. The panellists addressed the audience when talking about topics such as FIFA’s former President, Sepp Blatter, sexism in football, educating women in football and creating more roles for women in the world of sport.

To be involved in an event that carries such a strong message about women in sport was an unrivalled opportunity for the UCFB students who attended the debate, which was aired live on BBC Radio 5 Live. Since the 2012 Olympics, sport has seen a phenomenal increase in interest from women, particularly in the rapidly growing field of women’s football. The fact that every game in the Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be shown across a variety of platforms on the BBC truly demonstrates the progression of women’s football and other sports in recent years.

UCFB students shared their experiences about the Women’s Sports Week Debate at the National Football Museum.

Rachel Waters, BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student at UCFB Wembley, commented:

“Having the opportunity to attend the BBC Radio 5 Live debate as part of Women’s Sports Week was a fantastic privilege. The occasion provided the opportunity to network with leaders in the football and sports industry, such as Anna Kessel, chair of Women in Football, and Shelley Alexander, editorial lead for Women in Sport at the BBC. This was an incredible experience and I would encourage other UCFB students to take advantage of such unique opportunities.”

Leah Jakeman, BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance student at UCFB Burnley, added:

“The debate not only fuelled my aspiration to work in the sports industry but also allowed me to participate in some very valuable, second-to-none networking opportunities. I want to thank Rachel Brown-Finnis and UCFB, and I hope to attend many more events like this in the future. I thoroughly recommend these events to any female student with ambitions to make it to board level in sport. We are very fortunate to have these role models and opportunities at UCFB.”