We checked in with all-female boxing coach, Liona Bravo following our successful Open Day for women and girls to find out more about the day, and why events like this are so important in engaging young women and girls in our sports sessions.
“Through delivering this open day we wanted to create a space that was welcoming and special and for women and girls, and get them really excited about coming to Fight for Peace – we want them to feel like it’s a place for them to come to.
New spaces can be intimidating for anybody, particularly gyms. If you feel like it’s somewhere you haven’t been in a while, or if you don’t feel that fit or that confident, it can be a bit scary, and I think that can be increased for girls and women entering spaces that are traditionally male dominated like combat sports gyms.
As an organisation we strive to ensure we are actively inviting women and girls into our space so they can share the benefits of combat sports, youth work, and everything else that we do here.
We know how special the effects of taking part in combat sports are and want to make sure we’re not just reaching boys and men, or girls who are already comfortable and active in entering these spaces.
It was a real pleasure to have six new young people who joined us, and it was nice to see how easily the group integrated. This was made possible by some of our more experienced members who kindly stepped in to help with coaching, working with partner groups and getting the girls to try new things – it was a special experience.
The open day was also about celebrating our Lutadoras, an all-female personal development group where women and girls come together to share views, experiences and opinions in an open and non-judgemental space.
The Lutadoras really led by example, supporting us in giving everyone a real experience of what we do here. The sports demonstrations were followed by the delivery of a Your Best Friend workshop. A youth-led #FriendsCanTell campaign led by Lutadoras Nicole and Vicky, who are delivering 11 workshops on how to support friends that find themselves in toxic relationships.
The opening activity was centred around giving one another positive affirmations, and the experience of doing that with people we’d only just met (particularly teenagers) was great to see. Everybody actively participated and Nicole and Vicky made sure everyone was included which helped boost that feeling of safe space. That was really great to be a part of.
I hope the new people who joined us on the day enjoyed the experience, and that we were able to positively influence their attitudes and relationships towards physical activity. I would love to see them come back and join other sessions, whether it’s our female only session or another general session.
As a boxer myself, I would love for women to see boxing as something for them. A lot of women and girls have that relationship with dance, and there are less barriers around how they would be perceived – I would love to see that equivalent in boxing.
Globally we are moving in the right direction, there’s a lot more positive media around females participating in boxing and combat sports which is amazing but we are still a long way away in terms of global perspectives.
My hope is that Fight for Peace is a space in the world where it feels like we don’t have those global imbalances in gender, and this is a space that women and girls feel comfortable walking into, and have equal access to the opportunities that boys and men have here.”