Meet Nikki Riley from the UK – here she tells us what frustrates her about the way women athletes are portrayed in the media, how she’s been lucky to have had life choices that she knows are denied to others, and why she’s climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with Equal Playing Field.

Want to help Nikki break a world record? She’s also fundraising for our Egyptian star Esraa Awad. Sponsor them here: https://www.gofundme.com/equal-playing-field-kilimanjaro

I grew up in Nottingham, England. I played sports at school, but I wasn’t allowed to play football. The girls were only allowed to play netball and hockey, boys were allowed to play football and rugby. I hated all the sports I was “supposed” to play but I started playing football for a local girls’ team that my dad found when I was 10.

I never attended a pro-women’s football game until I was in my 20s as it wasn’t really something advertised. Come to think of it, I never watched any women’s sports -  all the live sports I was taken to see were men’s! It annoys me that there’s a bit of a stigma around women’s sport, that its seen as “not as good” or “the cheap option”. The coverage of women’s football in the UK has got better – but is still terrible.  When England played recently, I had to scroll through so many sports stories to find anything on the game! Ironic considering our women’s team are much more successful than our men’s at the moment!

And when women are profiled – they are often described in a derogatory way as though it’s a surprise that they are good at sport. Being first described as a “mother” or “wife of” or “ex model” rather than focussing on the fact that she is an athlete. They are often judged on their looks rather than their sporting performance. For men’s coverage, their sporting achievement comes first.

People say that the men’s game has a better atmosphere - this will only change when people are more open to watching women’s sport – but they can’t open up to the idea until there is better profile of women’s sport in the media.

In taking on this world record challenge, I hope to pave the way for my future children. My ten-year old niece is excited that I am climbing a mountain. She is a very girly girl and has joined the football and basketball teams at school and I don’t for one second think it has crossed her mind that she is playing a “boys” sport. This is how it should be, and I hope that won’t suddenly change. I have hope for the next generation. 

I believe women should have more choice in the way they live their life. I have been lucky enough to live in a society where I have been allowed to make my own choices. I recently married my wife, something that is frowned upon and illegal in many countries around the world. I am climbing this mountain for all the women who aren’t allowed freedom to be who they want to be in all aspects of their life.

If you would like to support Nikki to break a world record and inspire a new generation please donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/equal-playing-field-kilimanjaro