Chichester students are proof that... This Girl Can

Netball is alive and kicking at the University of Chichester / Picture by John Geeson
Netball is alive and kicking at the University of Chichester / Picture by John Geeson

It was quite a week for University of Chichester sportswomen, what with Jess Breach marking her senior England rugby union debut with six tries and skier Zoe Karavasili adding regional success to the gold medal she won in the under-21 national championships earlier this year.

Others at the university were involved in British Universities and Colleges Sport This Girl Can week which builds on the Sport England campaign launched in 2015 to encourage more women to get active and participate in sport and physical exercise.

University of Chichester Student Union president Lauren Ellis co-ordinated a range of activities throughout the week for female students to take part in.

She said: “We’ve put on events to get people that are already playing sport to do a little bit more and others for those that aren’t taking part in sport to get active and do some exercise. We had lots of help from Chichester’s Everyone Active leisure centre and our sports clubs ran sessions that were opened up to girls to go along to and see if they enjoyed the sport.”

Ellis was also part of the women’s football team that picked up their third Prem South win on the spin in Cardiff.

The hosts took the lead on the half-hour mark against the run of play but Chichester captain Sophie Phelps equalised. Hannah Reed earned her side three points with a super free kick.

Phelps said: “We started the game well but then went a goal down. They gained confidence but we responded, got ahead and stayed strong defensively to secure the win.”

The women’s football seconds won for the third week in a row on the road, beating UCL 4-0 in the cup on Hackney Marshes. They face King’s College London in the quarter-finals in the new year.

The university’s netballers held a tournament in This Girl Can Week for more than 100 students that don’t usually play the sport.

Jane Lomax, a senior lecturer at the university and England netball tutor, said: “I think the This Girl Can initiative is absolutely brilliant. We still have lots of girls who don’t have the opportunity or don’t have the confidence to take part in sport. So to have a focus on women and sport is great because that brings it to the fore and puts it out there and the girls can enjoy a bit of media attention which they don’t get enough of.”

Netball president Ella Veal said: “We had 17 teams playing netball in the dome in our This Girl Can tournament made up of players from other clubs, people’s housemates and friends – people we haven’t seen here before.”

She added: “The netball club is doing really well this year. Our five teams are all in strong positions in the league. Our firsts are third which is much higher than we expected. The seconds are in mid-table and our threes have won all their league games so far and are top of the league. Our fours are mid-table but have games in hand and our fives are also flying at the top of their league.

“In fact they’re absolutely smashing it. They haven’t lost a game so far and they’ve won them all really convincingly. Hopefully we’ll get some promotions this year.”

The netball first team beat Southampton at home in the national trophy 64-45 but the fives fell in the conference cup to S. Mary’s threes, a team from a higher tier.

Chi’s women’s tennis team were knocked out of the second round of the cup at King’s College in challenging conditions. Rebecca Farrow and Leonie Stiefermann put up a real fight in their doubles match going down 13-11 in a deciding tie-break. The other pair of Holly Ryan and Maddie Payne lost 3&2.

Farrow had another battle in singles but couldn’t quite come through a second-set tie-break and King’s picked up straight sets wins in the other three singles.

The tennis players are in the top half of a tough league this year with the likes of Sussex, Reading and Brunel. They face Hertfordshire next in the last fixture before the break.

Beth Yeoman together with Jack Raison, Jordan Brown, Josh Henderson, Charles Kelly and James Jardine have built a pretty much unassailable lead in the league for mixed golf. They are unbeaten but Imperial gave them their toughest contest so far this week.

Women’s futsal, who had an excellent season last year in the league and beyond, are going well again. The Premier South league leaders haven’t lost a match yet and have notched up an impressive goal difference.

Elsewhere in women’s sport the badminton team are top of their league, the volleyballers are second and an unbeaten lacrosse team are in the mix in third place with games in hand.