England Hockey chief executive Nick Pink said the country is “on the crest of a really exciting wave for women in sport” as the women’s team have an opportunity to claim Commonwealth gold on Sunday.
England will face Australia in the final of the Birmingham 2022 Games for the chance to continue the success of the UK’s top female athletes – a momentum Pink believes has “been building for a number of years”.
But the Lionesses’ Euros triumph has driven “significant change” for the perception of women’s sport, aided by the number of women involved behind the scenes, the 45-year-old added.
“I don’t think it’s just been the last week with the Lionesses, I think it’s been building for a number of years,” Pink told the PA news agency.
“There’s so much to celebrate about women’s sport more broadly, and there’s more and more women involved at all levels of administration in all organisations.
“And that’s starting to play out in terms of the success on the field of play as well.
“We’re on the crest of a really exciting wave for women in sport.”
Pink said the UK’s ability to host successful events is partly responsible for the increasing celebration of women’s sport and also crucially encourages young people to partake.
“We host them incredibly well. We host them in different parts of the country as well so it gives greater access for young girls and young boys,” he said.
“I think sports and governing bodies that deliver a lot of the sports programmes through their network of clubs and volunteers are far more focused now on the importance of making sure that their programmes are inclusive and not exclusive.
“I think as a nation, our infrastructure wants to see this change and our volunteer network wants to see that change.”
Pink elaborated on the importance of diversifying sport through grassroots initiatives, many of which are supported by funding from the National Lottery.
“Most recently, we’ve started a partnership with The Muslim Sports Foundation and that’s enabled us to work with Muslim girls for the first time,” he said.
“There’s the demand and an opportunity there, if positioned well, to make sure that the sport is more sustainable in different parts of the country.”
Pink added that he caught the Lionesses’ Euros win with his nine-year-old son last week.
“It was incredible, it was so inspirational,” he said.
“And the first thing (my son) said to me was, ‘Why are we not there? Why are we not watching it live?’
“It showed in two, three weeks of that competition, what they had done to change the perception of women’s sport – not just for my son, but for the nation… I think they really drove some significant change.
“I think there’s gonna be some tremendous success for women’s football going forward.”
England will take on Australia in the women’s hockey final on Sunday.
Pink said that the England hockey players, both men and women, are a “true inspiration”.