OLYMPIC gold medallist Sam Quek hailed the success of the Lionesses and Red Roses as pivotal to making sport trendy for the next generation of young girls.
The Wirral star was part of history at Rio 2016 as Team GB won their first ever women’s hockey gold and women’s sport has enjoyed exponential growth since then.
The Lionesses’ Euros victory in 2022 and run to the World Cup final a year later, alongside the dominance of the Red Roses in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and similarly reaching the World Cup final, has seen more fans than ever tune in and turn up to women’s sport.
Quek hopes the continuing development of and investment in women’s sport can ensure more girls than ever stay competing.
She said: “It’s so exciting. With girls at the age of 13 or 14, there is a massive drop-off in participation in sport but the Lionesses’ success, the Red Roses’ success, it has made sport cool.
“I always used to get asked whether I was sporty or glamorous, which one are you? I used to say I am both, you don’t have to be one or the other. Let’s combine the two, people can be who they want to be.
“With the growing visibility of women’s sport, for girls of that age group it is becoming cool which is so important because sport is a really special thing in terms of what it can give and what you can get out of it.”
Quek also highlighted the vital importance of proper funding to enable the high-level performance and success that has inspired so many.
The 35-year-old pointed to the impact of funding from The National Lottery that allowed Great Britain’s hockey team to train full-time in 2009 before becoming Olympic champions seven years later.
She said: “Without the investment in women’s sport, they wouldn’t have been able to train together full-time and have the support they need to be the best in the world.
“It is why it is so important they get that backing and that funding.
“I wouldn’t be a gold medallist without National Lottery funding, Team GB wouldn’t have won it, we wouldn’t be in the position we are now.
“It gives you enough support to train full-time, it allows you to access the best nutrition, psychologists, coaches.
“It allows them to employ enough people, in hockey terms, to look after 32 players who are fighting to be selected. If you can’t afford to train full-time you have to work and get income in other ways, you can’t be with your squad mates the amount of time you need to be to be the best.”
Over a decade on from Quek’s first involvement with The National Lottery as an athlete, she has gone full circle after teaming back up with The National Lottery to present its Amazing Starts Here podcast.
The series focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding, including mother Kate Valentine – who set up her own group The Singing Mamas to promote women’s wellbeing – and Lochlan Murdoch, a Scottish teenager raising awareness of Type 1 diabetes.
Quek said: “When The National Lottery came up to me and said we are going to be speaking to loads of different people who benefit from support from The National Lottery I was like ‘I am up for this’.
“I thought I knew what was in store but when I met these people doing amazing things in their community, I was genuinely blown away because these are ordinary people doing amazing things.
“When it came to The National Lottery and getting involved, I was 100% involved and I was really excited.
“I didn’t realise how far everything stretched in terms of who they help, it is endless and people are benefitting in so many ways to help their communities.”
Sam Quek is the host of The National Lottery’s award-winning podcast series Amazing Starts Here which celebrates the ordinary people who do extraordinary things with help of the £30 million raised by National Lottery players every week for good causes throughout the UK. Listen to the entire series here.