Meet Lisa Handy, former winger at Sheffield United, Sheffield Ladies FC and Wednesday Reserves, in the UK. An avid athlete across a range of sports, here Lisa tells us why football features so highly and what climbing Mt Kilimanjaro means to her.
To support Lisa and the other Equal Playing Field players, please visit http://equalplayingfield.com/donate/
I’ve always been passionate about sport. By the age of 15 I was at school doing my GCSEs, dancing in shows across the UK and working three jobs to pay for my lessons and to buy equipment. I began working at a local sports centre as soon as I could and even set up my own basketball and football coaching programmes. Football still plays a huge role in my life, as a Physical Education teacher, coach, player and avid supporter.
I play football for the love of the game. I play football for the physical, mental and social benefits it provides. I play it to escape and to learn and develop every day. It’s taught me to strive to be more than I ever thought was possible. Football taught me to love and accept everybody and it taught me to believe that anything was possible.
I have a huge and supportive family, although we’re scattered across the UK which is where I grew up, America and the Dominican Republic. But my mother was a single mother with five children so there wasn’t a lot of spare money. I’ve been working since the age of 12 to fund my passion.
I’ve always been aware of gender bias in sport, even though it never bothered me on a personal level. But I think that through my work I have also been able to help to break down barriers and perceptions of women in sport at a local, regional and sometimes even national level.
My proudest moments have not necessarily come through my own or my team achievements. Instead it’s been in the precious moments I've shared through teaching and coaching; watching a young person develop in confidence through being part of a team, feeling a sense of belonging and mastering a new skill. Coaching coaches in the US and UK to ensure whole communities of footballers and clubs could develop and progress with a better knowledge and understanding of the beautiful game. The last 3 years I have suffered a couple of injuries through football, a broken wrist and a cracked cheekbone, but every time a young person smiles because of a successful challenge, goal scored or skill mastered, I am reminded why my love affair with football still exists.
I’m climbing Kilimanjaro because I believe that sporting prowess is sporting prowess, skill is skill, passion is passion and no matter what gender you are, what country you’re from or which sport you’re involved in, this should not only be recognized but celebrated. I may not see immediate change that will affect me directly in my lifetime. But I – we – will be making a difference for the next generation of women.
To support Lisa and the other Equal Playing Field players, please visit visit http://equalplayingfield.com/donate/
To find out more about the challenge, please go to www.equalplayingfield.com