A visit to Ealing Hockey Club gave Labour MP Rupa Huq the “inspiration” for her line of questioning at a recent Culture and Sport Select Commitee in the House of Commons.
Debating women in sport with academics the following week, Huq said that football was “crowding out” sports such as hockey given the high profile media noise around the Lionesses following their Euro success and World Cup silver.
“We can all name Chloe Kelly from Ealing and Sarina Wiegman. All these people are now household names, but is there something under the surface that about football maybe crowding out other sports?” she said.
Huq added that she had attended Ealing HC, which is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary after being formed after London 2012, with the sport associated as “jolly hockey sticks … one of those elitist sports”.
“But they are finding that the FA is ripping up a lot of pitches that used to be 2G and turning them into 3G, so you cannot play anything else. You can only play rugby and football there.
“A lot of girls I spoke to have come to hockey because they found football quite toxic. We know that there is corruption at the top level, but over the weekend we saw this thing with an under-sevens club where a parent punched a referee.
A lot of people, girls and boys—and interestingly, in hockey they have mixed teams. What do you think of the idea of mixed teams and about this idea that football is just nasty and toxic? In some junior and even kids’ leagues they shield the kids so that they cannot hear the parents effing and blinding.”
After hockey and cricket had earlier been mentioned in the committee session, Huq reiterated the need for other sports need to get more airwaves. How that is achieved, however, is another question.
“Is there a danger that football, and international top level football, is taking up all the airspace and underneath there is other stuff that football is not so great at, and other sports are in danger of being crowded out?” she added.
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