Around the world in women’s sport
Whether it’s rugby on the muddy fields of London or extreme adventures in the snowy Alps, women’s sport is having a huge moment. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re visiting the top female sporting events across the British Airways network this March
If the iconic Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona had a glass ceiling, it would have shattered on 22 April last year. In what was a new world record crowd for a women’s football match, 91,648 fans watched as Barcelona Femení took on Germany’s Wolfsburg. It represented the high water mark of a wave of support for female sport that’s been building over the last few years. The year 2022 went on to become a watershed moment for women’s football. While England’s male players kept talking about bringing football home, their female counterparts actually did it, in the historic UEFA Women’s Euro.
This newfound – and long overdue – appetite for women’s sport goes beyond football, cutting across a range of games. Rugby union, cricket and gymnastics have experienced a huge surge in crowds as the penny drops that skill and passion on the field have nothing to do with gender. This year is shaping up to be another game-changing one for women’s sport with the FIFA World Cup taking place in Australasia in July and the imminent launch of a new F1 series.
In honour of Women’s History Month, plus International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the biggest female sports events to be sweeping across the globe this month.
Women’s Premier League
Take off to India
4-24 March, India
Such has been the rapid growth in popularity of women’s cricket, that a rich, high-profile competition such as the Women’s Premier League was inevitable. The league will feature five franchises across India, based in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Lucknow. The format is T20 cricket – arguably the most exciting version of the sport, which is shortened to just 20 overs. If you’re in India this month, see history in the making as the world’s top female players smack as many balls into the crowd as they can.
FA Women’s League Cup Final
Take off to London
5 March, London
Women’s football was already popular in the UK before the Lionesses won the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Final at a packed Wembley Stadium. But the victory bumped the sport on to a whole new level – illustrated by the fact that star player Beth Mead won BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2022.
Catch up with Mead, Nikita Parris, Millie Bright and others during the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup, which sees club powerhouses such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal go head to head. The final this year takes place at historic Selhurst Park in London, the home of Crystal Palace – where the men’s FA Cup was hosted for 20 years before the construction of Wembley Stadium. If you ever wanted to start tapping into the fastest growing sport in the UK – in a stadium that’s regarded as football mecca – this is the perfect occasion to do so.
Alpine Skiing World Cup season finale
Take off to Andorra
15-19 March, Soldeu, Andorra
For those of us who struggle to stay upright on a pair of skis, watching the Alpine Skiing World Cup will be mind-blowing. The competition comprises five downhill disciplines that sound progressively scarier: slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom, parallel giant slalom and downhill. It will take place on slopes across the world, from Canada and America to Italy and Switzerland, and is the ultimate test of a skier’s skill, stamina and heart.
The 2022/2023 season has been a trying one in terms of weather, with some events cancelled because of too little snow and other due to storms and poor visibility. So the world’s top female skiers will be hoping to end the season on a high in Soldeu, Andorra – especially American skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who’s been gliding past records at breakneck speed. Pack your thermals and join the crowds slopeside to see this rising superstar in action.
Artistic Gymnastics British Championships
Take off to Liverpool
23-26 March, Liverpool
When the International Olympic Committee recently drew up a list of British athletes to watch in 2023, selecting artistic gymnast Jessica Gadirova was a no-brainer. The 18-year-old had an exceptional 2022, becoming Britain’s first-ever all-around medallist when she picked up a bronze at the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Budapest. She followed that with gold in the floor exercise on the final day of the competition – becoming only the second British woman to win the title and the youngest Brit to become a world champion.
Head to the Artistic Gymnastics British Championships in Liverpool – where female gymnasts compete on the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor – to see Gadirova prove her worth yet again. And if you think you’re seeing double at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool, you’re not. Jessica’s twin sister Jennifer is also a world-class artistic gymnast.
TikTok Women’s Six Nations
Take off to Europe
25 March-29 April, UK and Europe
Women’s Rugby Union has been smashing records on and off the field. Last year’s World Cup Final between New Zealand and England drew a crowd of 40,000 in Auckland, while almost 16,000 fans packed into Leicester’s Mattioli Woods Welford Road to watch England’s Red Roses (who British Airways is the Official Airline Partner for) take on Ireland in the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
This year’s Six Nations (that’s England, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy) is shaping up to be a cracker, with defending champions England heading into the tournament with a point to prove. Losing to the Black Ferns snapped the Roses’ astonishing 30-game winning streak, meaning they’ll be fired up entering the competition. Pick which European destination you want to catch them in or see history made on 29 April, when the Red Roses will play in the first standalone women’s match at Twickenham Stadium against rivals France, in the game known as ‘Le Crunch’. Watch England’s Red Roses in action.